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Artist's Way
Week 12

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Recovering a Sense of Faith

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"In this final week, we acknowledge the inherently mysterious spiritual heart of creativity. We address the fact that creativity requires receptivity and profound trust -- capacities we have developed through our work in this course. We set our creative aims and take a special look at last minute sabotage. We renew our commitment to the use of the tools."

Our 12 weeks of working The Artist's Way together is about to end. We have been working throughout the winter to uncover the artist that lies within. Like little groundhogs, we may have run from our shadows at times. At other times, we stood boldly in the sunlight daring our artists to emerge from the darkness.

This week we have one more topic to focus on before we go on our way -- faith. We've touched on faith a bit in the past weeks, but now we are asked to DO things to support the faith that was planted during our journey.

Where I live, we have about one more month of possible frosts. As a reminder that winter was not quite over yet, we woke to a dusting of snow this morning after having a beautifully warm day yesterday. This dusting of snow reminded me that, while I feel very much in touch with my inner artist right at this moment, there will come does that I will have to keep myself from taking a few steps back and crawling back underneath the blankets. Staying true to my artist at all times is not going to be easy.
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Because we have another month left of winter not being sure it really wants to leave and spring not being confident enough to force winter out, it is a perfect time to plant seeds -- indoors. Starting seeds this way has become an enjoyable activity for me. It is with great expectation and faith that I poke the seeds down into fresh, loose soil. It's with the care of an infant's mother that I gently water the seed tray. I put the lid on the tray and place the tray in the warmth of the sun knowing that soon there will be sprouts.

Over the next few days I will look for sprouts several times a day. I know myself. I'm like a little kid waiting for Christmas. I will keep a vigilant watch and, as the days go by and I see no sprouts, I'll doubt myself and think I did something wrong. I must not have watered them enough, or watered them too much, or didn't give them enough sun or they got too much sun, or they got too hot or too cold. I'll spend many hours lamenting my black thumb. I'll be tempted to dig my finger down into the soil and see what's happening down there -- if anything -- and see if it needs my help. Maybe the soil is too heavy (probably because I watered it too much and it turned into a heavy clay).

Just when I've given up all hope, I see a sign of a sprout. A little bit of dirt has been lifted up by the emerging sprout. I haven't hold myself back from taking that dirt off and exposing the sprout before it's ready. I want to SEE it! (See, I told you I was like a kid!)

Almost every day, from that point on, I have the pleasure of witnessing some sort of growth -- more seedlings popping up, seedlings straightening themselves as they find the sun, leaves emerging, plants growing so tall that they touch the tray's lid, and on it goes, until I start wondering if they are ready (or if the ground is ready) to be planted outside.

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This whole exercise -- from planting the seeds to transplanting the seedlings into my garden -- is a wonderful reminder to me of faith. Who would have expected that a little bit of dirt, sunlight, and water could cause a seed to sprout and grow?! I don't know how it happens. It is all so mysterious. I can't peek in under the soil or I'll kill the precious newborn. I can imagine what it is like, but I can't remove the dirt and watch it for myself. I have to wait and trust that those seedlings will emerge on their own time. And when they do, I'll have front-row seats for the spectacular event.

What Julie Cameron teaches us this week is all about the faith, the mystery, and the imagination evoked when one plants seeds. I purposefully planted seed today for this very reason. I knew that over the next few weeks I will need a reminder -- to hold on to the faith, mystery, and imagination I have discovered. I will need a reminder that all things take time -- that the maple tree that provides lushious shade on hot summer days did not grow over night.

My seeds will need darkness and nourishment provided by the dirt, warmth provided by the sun and refreshment provided by the water. My creativity will need darkness provided by alone times, nourishment provided by taking classes, talking with other artists, and doing the things I love, warmth provided by sparks that come in my morning pages, and refreshment provided by regular artist dates.

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While you think this may be the end, it really is the beginning. It is the start of something new in your life -- a life spent side-by-side with your artist. Don't let your artist down. Provide for your artist's every need. If you don't, just like my seeds, your creativity will whither and some ideas will never have the chance to sprout.

* * * Creative Expression * * *

Plant a few seeds yourself. Get caught up in the mystery of it all!

If gardening isn't your thing, plant a garden on paper. Create a garden collage. Include images that represent all the different stages of growth. Label those images with the stages you experience as an artist.

If even the theme of gardening does nothing for you, find something to watch that will go through stages -- over a period of weeks watch a new building or road being built, make a loaf of bread that requires yeast and rising time, watch a sunrise or sunset. In watching the progression you may come to appreciate your own progression. You may also witness the cyclical nature of life. A road is build but must be resurfaced many times in its "lifetime".

The most beautiful thing we can experience in the mysterious.
--Albert Einstein