More News from Nepal and Elsewhere on Creativity as Healing

In yesterday’s DM I shared news from the streets of Nepal about the impact of coronavirus there and how the Shanti community is responding to the crisis.  Marianne Grosspietsch continues her report:

A young man collecting cardboard for briquets for cooking. Photo provided by Marianne Grosspietsch.

Our Junior Manager Bijendra met a man in very worn clothes, carrying card board pieces.  When  he asked, what the man wanted  them for, he was told: “I go to Shanti every day, and they give me food. I collect the cardboard, so that they may use it for making briquets for cooking.”

He shared this with the other poor people who came for food, asking them to also collect cardboard. And from then on, even children came  to contribute in their own way.  Their activity reduces the garbage piles too – what a wonderful double effect. Gas and kerosene have become very expensive, because the border to India is locked. We want to preserve nature and avoid chopping trees for fire wood. The cardboard  also creates jobs for our mentally challenged patients, who tear the pieces, soak them in water and press the briquets.

Women tear scrap paper to make into briquets. From the Shanti Leprahilfe website.

Corona may make us having to accept changes in our lifestyle here in the West, yet people in other parts of the world suffer from hunger, from lack of drinking water, from want of  basic medicines…. how much reason do we have to show our gratefulness by not complaining but rather by supporting the needy.

I find in this report from the streets of Nepal another example of how creativity and art hold the key to justice and compassion.  The Via transformative is born of the via creativa which in turn is born of the via negativa (including suffering) and the via positiva (the love of life).  So much of the work of Shanti—as of all the work of healing, justice-making and compassion–is art work. 

“In the greenhouses constructed of bamboo, the seedlings are cultivated and then brought out to the fields. If needed, the bamboo frames are covered with plastic sheeting.” Photo from the Shanti Leprahilfe website.

It is taking disparate pieces and re-arranging them; it is looking at what is and imagining what is not yet; it is facing the impossible and forging the possible—which is the difference between despair and hope. 

As Aquinas reminds us, despair is about the impossible; hope is about the possible.  A place like Shanti brings the possible alive, hope alive.  As all art does.

We once had in our master’s program a Catholic Sister from the East Coast.  I began my class on psychology and spirituality by inviting students to draw a picture of their soul—and hers was clearly dark and troubled. 

“Kumar is paraplegic. He found his life’s purpose as a silversmith.” Photo from the Shanti Leprahilfe website.

Inviting her in to talk, I learned that she was an artist but her art was destroyed when her convent burned down.  On being assigned to hand out mail in her institution, she found herself deeply depressed and on medications.  Her mother superior told me she sent her to our program because “therapy was not working.”  Through our program, including art as meditation classes, she threw off her meds and became alive again.

Art heals.

For more about Shanti see  Donations are welcomed.

See Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet.

Banner image: “Jogendra, the painter, has painted the buildings in Tilganga with bright hues together with his wife, Reika, and other Shanti painters. And that despite hands impaired by leprosy!” Photo from the Shanti Leprahilfe website

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree that “corona may accept changes in our lifestyle in the West”?  How might that manifest itself?

Recommended Reading

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

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5 thoughts on “More News from Nepal and Elsewhere on Creativity as Healing”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you again for your inspiring words and showing us the examples of the “least of these” in Nepal and elsewhere whose great spirits put us privileged ones to shame.

  2. Avatar

    Do you agree that “corona may accept changes in our lifestyle in the West”? How might that manifest itself?

    I’m sorry
    I don’t think anything will change Apart from mass unemployment, people on the breadline, it will still be the have & the have nots
    World banks, multinationals, Conglomerates, greedy capitalist, I could go on But
    You get my point
    It sounds pessimistic I know
    Did anything change after the Black Death ( plaque)
    did anything changed at the top of the pyramid
    Stay safe

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Billy, I know that times like these do tend to breed pessimism. These times however also offer us a time to walk the path of the Via Negativa–the path of darkness and silence, but of pain and suffering as well. In Creation Spirituality we believe that life moves to differing degrees, cyclically along four paths: 1) The Via Positiva–the path of awe and wonder at life and the world, 2) The Via Negativa, which I’ve already mentioned, 3) The Via Creativa–the path of creativity and birthing and finally 4) The Via Transformativa–the path of transformation both personal and social as well as celebration for a good work done. For a brief overview of Creation Spirituality why not read Matthew’s book: Creation Spirituality? Thank you for your comments!

  3. Avatar

    Thanks Richard
    My wife says I’m a pessimist, that pessimism I think comes from my previous lives
    ( reincarnation) and it’s my karma
    And yet Richard, I believe the path I’m on now “ via Transformativa
    I’ve read many books by Matthew fox
    yes they can help but it’s the finger pointing to the moon
    If you keep looking at the finger you will never see the moon
    Stay safe

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