This is a ten-part series in reviewing and experiencing through art experiential’s, the book by Cathy A. Malchiodi, The Soul’s Palette, the book we are studying in my Intro to Arts and Healing art therapy course.
CONTENT WARNING: Mention of depression, abuse, and suicidal thoughts.
Chapter 9: Nurturing the Sacred
This chapter is a deeply, divinely inspired chapter filled with ways to help connect to one’s true self, their soul, their spirit through art. Tapping into the many ways throughout the world, the author demonstrates how being creative brings forth one’s “spiritual wisdom and encounter the sacred (p. 172).” The focus on compassion as a spiritual path to peace is mentioned often throughout this chapter too.
Prayer, intention, and art, when combined can draw out the deepest heart of oneself. Prayer can be a concentrated thought. Prayer can be admiring and enjoying a lovely sunrise. Prayer can be making a homemade card to give to someone to inspire something positive. Tibetan monks use prayer flags to assist their prayers and are symbols of their prayers. The wind carries these prayers to the Divine. This is a lovely example of incorporating prayer, intention, and art.
I love that Malchiodi writes about random acts of art as a form of random acts of kindness. This is a way to demonstrate compassion. She explains (p. 186) how in Buddhism this is referred to as a bodhisattva; a vow to a life of service to ease the suffering of others. Pretty much what I have committed to for a majority of my life and recognize that the many traumas I have experienced happened to help me have a deep well of empathy and compassion for others. As well as developing a very deep connection to the realm of spirit, going to Marywood to receive an education to become an art therapist will enable me even further to fulfill this type of vow.
The random acts of art are for both others and myself. At times, I connect with others through the realm of spirit and it causes me to create art to connect with the intention that my prayers for others will be fulfilled for their freedom from suffering. Last year, I had a deep connection to someone that was so wounded at the level of soul that I had to do a random act of art for their sake. Upon waking from a deep dream that placed me in the realm of spirit, I wrote this child of God a letter (after praying to God to use me to write this letter for their healing) and included a poem I had written earlier that year. I don’t know what I wrote beyond an offering of friendship via a pen pal or more if they’re willing to take that chance. I fully believe we all have spiritual connections seen and unseen. To manifest my prayers and compassion, especially since I have had a few more dreams of this person since last year, I make a painting of their agony and have it by my entrance to my apartment.
I also do random acts of art for myself too and have filled my stairwell with numerous artworks that ease my spirit and help me to remember gratitude for my blessings in life.
Another concept in this chapter is on creating images of compassion to maintain one’s humility and compassion for the suffering of others. I have two paintings I made that were inspired originally by songs written by Brett Eldredge. Sometimes I will hear a song and instead of thinking it a love song, I see it as God trying to connect with His children, or in the case of one of these two paintings, it was a plea to God to not abandon me in my time of deep suffering.
When I heard Eldredge’s song, Castaway, it was around a period in my life back in 2018 where my clinical depression got so bad combined with an emotionally abusive relationship that I sought help for thoughts of suicide. I didn’t want to be a castaway and wanted to be embraced by the Divine. Castaway is defined as a person who has been shipwrecked and stranded in an isolated place. Eventually my meds were corrected and the abusive person was removed from my life. I keep this painting to remind me that others in the world also feel abandoned by God and others, it keeps me humble and focused on my goal to be of service to others.
The other painting I recently made inspired by Eldredge’s song, The One You Need, was how at times, life can get so lonely that I feel like I am in a leaky boat with no shore in sight. More often than not, it’s when I turn to Divine Light and follow its path, I gain more freedom from suffering and witness miracles. I painted this image to help me also keep a compassionate heart for myself from a self-care standpoint but, more importantly what I hope to achieve as a servant of God via this bodhisattva.
The chapter ends on stressing the importance of nurturing the spirit through a connection to nature. My bathroom is filled with photographs and paintings of nature. I also go for walks and enjoys listening to the peaceful stream, reflecting often on how, if I just go with the flow, my life would be less stressful. Every time I walk and stop at my halfway point, I imagine letting go of whatever is troubling me that day and it drifts downstream never to be felt ever again. I walk home feeling lighter and more at peace. After all, if you’re one with nature, you’re one with the Great Spirit.