Journey of an East Tennessee Pagan
April 25, 2020
What comes to mind when you think of spiritual practice? Prayer? Meditation? Spiritual reading? Journaling? I’ve always approached spiritual practice in these terms and, while I have grown from these practices, they never seem to be as fulfilling as promised. If the goal of spiritual practice is to develop a closer connection to whatever deity you believe in or connecting with your higher self, maybe I’ve been missing the point. I’m a very creative person, but I’ve always used creating/making/performing as a tool, as a means to an end. Yet when I think about it, my most mystical and ecstatic spiritual experiences happen when I lose myself in making something: arranging/composing a hymn tune, singing a song, coloring a picture from a book, even practicing music or writing code for a Web site.
This video from a rehearsal of a short piece I wrote a couple of years ago speaks of this. When I began composing, I had a completely different text in mind. This very quickly gave way to the text I ended up using, an adaptation of a Navajo prayer:
Beauty before, beauty behind,
Beauty above, beauty below.
Walk in quiet the beautiful trail.
Beauty within, beauty without,
Beauty beginning, beauty the end.
Walk in beauty, in peace, and in love.
What if the very act of creation is spiritual practice? How does making something feed your spirit and/or deepen your connection to the holy?