Friday, February 18, 2011

An Aligned Life

The Artist's Way is a classic work on developing a spiritual path to creativity. I recommend it for anyone's advancement in life. It is not typical "devotional" reading, but I find my spirit deeply touched/massaged/caressed every time I read a chapter.

The author returns regularly to an awareness that we are alive on purpose and this awareness imparts to us the opportunity and obligation to live well. "What we are talking about is an induced or invited spiritual experience. I refer to this process as spiritual chiropractic. We undertake certain spiritual exercises to achieve alignment with the creative energy of the universe." (p. 1) She says we are best like our Creator when we live creatively, whatever our choice of artwork. I agree and I appreciate the practical help she gives toward launching and maintaining a creative life.

However, as I strive to know and be like God, I believe two additional elements are needed. (Perhaps she will come to these as I continue reading.) These qualities are redemptiveness and joy. A life well-lived is one lived creatively, redemptively, and joyfully.

Whatever God creates also needs -- at least in this universe -- redemption. If what I write is not in some manner redemptive, it is disconnected from reality and may only distract or disempower readers. I want my art (and my life) to be of some help to those like me who have fallen and cannot rise up on their own. This is why I take such issue with how the movie adaptation of "Dear John" so changed the ending from the way Nicholas Sparks wrote the book. The whole point of how the main character grew and changed regarding his sense of his part in life lost its redemptive power. Hollywood scripts a "happy" ending, but life can be good even if the boy doesn't get the girl.

The other God-pointing quality is joy. This is hard to define and it transcends circumstancial happiness. At this point in life, I believe it is a confidence in the ultimate goodness of human existance. This is not to say that everything that happens is good or that everyone is good at heart, but that the plot of God's story is leading somewhere worthwhile. Maybe the opposite of joy is not saddness, but rather cynicism and boredom. Joy inspires a creativity that needs to be shared with others (i.e. living redemptively). My wife and I had a sick day together this week and we watched the movie "Pay It Forward." The lead character made a choice within horrible circumstances: to believe that something he did could and would make a difference. Waves of redemptive action rolled out from his acts of kindness. He did not learn of all of all the impact he had, but that speaks to how the choice to live joyfully is an act of faith. We will not learn "the end of the story" (i.e. Paul Harvey) until the Great Author weaves it all together. That will be a joyful moment!

I hope that your reading of this entry helps you achieve alignment with the creative energy of the universe. It has helped me to write it.

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