January 4, 2019 Brian Allain

Expect to Become More Attentive to, and Engaged with Life

 

Creative work teaches you to pay attention, and this is something that few people do well or often. We spend hours and days at a time just trying to get ahead of an impossible schedule or solve one of many problems. We don’t have time to sit and watch what light does to the color of the living-room wall at a certain time in the afternoon. Well, if you are painting a picture with a living-room wall in it, you’ll learn to notice your wall. Or if you’re writing a story that contains an afternoon scene, you will pay better attention to what physical qualities make the afternoon different from morning or evening.

Engagement goes hand in hand with attentiveness. Once you truly attend to the details of life, you will learn how to deal with them intentionally and thoughtfully. Artists talk of being in the flow or losing track of time. This happens when our senses, mind and emotions are completely occupied with the task at hand. Creative work, particularly work done regularly rather than sporadically, leads you right into engagement.

In Christian devotional language, engagement involves living in the moment or finding God in the ordinary. You have little choice but to live in the moment when you are doing creative work. And the ordinary regularly opens up to become extraordinary. This is just one way in which creativity enhances the spiritual life; it gives excellent training in attentiveness and living in the moment.

 

– from “The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life” by Vinita Hampton Wright of Loyola Press