I am a regular, periodic writer for the Forum on Faith column in three Connecticut newspapers: the Danbury News-Times, the Stamford Advocate, and the Connecticut Post. You can read yesterday’s article online here, here, or here, or below:
When Spirituality and Creativity Are One
I am a Christian Science Practitioner who also happens to be an artist. It is common for artists to have day jobs, but most Christian Science Practitioners don’t do anything else professionally. However, I have long seen the advantages of cross-pollination, and what I call a “both/and” approach to life.
I find art to be prayer itself, so I never feel torn between these two authentic facets of my being.
Christian Scientists understand God as the Creator of the universe, who made us in “His image and likeness,” as the first chapter of Genesis declares. To me, that means that we are all designed, even mandated, to be creative as well. To deny that in ourselves is to dangerously overlook a fundamental feature of our nature.
So I nurture both creativity and spirituality as basic – even crucial – aspects of my origin. To practice and grow in these departments, for me, means I am on track with my essential self, and doing my job of noticing, amplifying and praising what God is working in me.
Spirituality and art both highlight a conception of reality that is not material or literal. Spirituality is often defined as that which is the opposite of materiality, and even the most realistic painting is not the thing that it is depicting. Both spirituality and art examine our assumptions of what reality actually is.
While I am invigorated by painting impressionistically out in God’s gorgeous landscape, my spirit soars even more when creating conceptual, abstract art. Art and prayer are my two best ways to spiritually connect with my Source, and I utilize them often, both to feel centered myself and to help others feel that way, too.
Most artists paint nouns – people, places or things. But ideas are nouns too, and I find them to be the most interesting subjects for my art. How do you paint the idea of confidence, or propulsion, or even the month of July? These are examples of non-material things that I have enjoyed painting, listening to God each step of the way.
Christian Science “resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul.” This quote is by the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” and it describes the core of my job as a spiritual healer, as well as why I also pursue work as an artist.
We may feel barraged and bogged down by the “objects of sense,” which are likely not even true from a spiritual perspective. My job as a spiritual healer is not to commiserate with the “objects of sense” in front of me.
Instead, what are the ideas of Soul? They are things like intelligence, strength, purity, love, harmony, vitality, innocence, justice, wellness, vibrancy, consciousness, ability and joy. I believe ideas of Soul are always beautiful and true; each one of us eternally includes them, and we can access them at any time because they come from God.
Clients call me for help because they need someone to see past the mess they find themselves in, and to hold a space for them to inhabit a better experience, which is aligned instead with those ideas of Soul (God). In my art as well, I try to focus on and portray what is really true, above and beyond what the material senses are so loudly insisting.
When I pray, I begin reasoning from my belief that God is all-powerful and all-loving, instead starting with a problem. It is then that solutions appear. Likewise, when I paint, I listen to God, being obedient each step of the way. This approach, in both disciplines, is based on a higher understanding of reality, and usually yields results that people find interesting and even wonderful.
In my work in either prayer or art, I encourage everyone to embrace their own deep authenticity. This is a place where ego has no voice, internal chatter and insecurity is silenced, and where I believe, good is not only possible but inevitable.
I am passionate about spirituality and creativity because I know they are healthy catalysts, which compound exponentially. In my experience, deep authenticity and alignment with the Creator instill not only individual happiness, compassion and well-being, but magnify outward, eventually resulting in peace on earth, as well as our collective sustainability and survival.
So, yes, I pray and paint. But what I am really trying to do is save the world, together with you.
Polly Castor is a Christian Science Practitioner and member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Ridgefield. She can be reached at PollyCastor@gmail.com .