Creativity is utterly natural to our species—indeed it is the very working definition of who we are that anthropologists take with them into the field when they look for bones of old bipeds–bones that are accompanied by artifacts. 

Matthew Fox reflects on his book Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet, and the importance of cultivating creativity in our world.

We are the biped who specializes in making artifacts.  We are powerfully creative beings—which not only explains the beauty and genius we give birth to in our music, theater, paintings, architecture, science—but it also explains our capacity for destruction or evil.  A useful education today must instruct us in our creativity so that we do not turn it over to others and so that we use it for purposes that are life-giving and life-affirming (biophilia) rather than destructive or death-affirming (necrophilia). 

Let us continue to draw on the wisdom of Hildegard and other creation mystics as they wax elegant about our creativity and challenge us not to take creativity for granted but to practice it.  Creativity can be meditation and often is.  It is art as meditation.  It centers us and focuses us and teaches us to let go. 

Vibrant light from night star. Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash.

When Hildegard was very sick, she had an overwhelming experience of a great light that came upon her, she turned to art as meditation.  “Beaten down by many kinds of illness  at the same time, I decided to put my hand to writing.  Once I did this, a deep and profound exposition of books came over me.  I received the strength to rise up from my sick bed, and under that power I continued to carry out the work to the end using all of ten years to do it.”  Creativity heals.  And it empowers. 

She is speaking of her first book, Scivias (“Know the ways” of folly vs. the ways of wisdom) which she wrote over a ten year period.  It contained an opera (300 years older than any other opera in the West) and many paintings as well as her Biblical and scientific commentaries. 

But notice the lesson for us all: Putting one’s thoughts down in some fashion—words, journaling, painting, singing, podcast, youtube and the rest—this is healthy.  It is human.  It heals us and it heals others.  It gets us into our inner truth, our true selves, and it emerges as a gift for others.  Says the great psychologist, Otto Rank: “The artist is one who wants to leave behind a gift.”

A home podcasting studio. Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash.

This is how Meister Eckhart understands art as meditation: “Whatever I want to express in its truest meaning must emerge from within me and pass through an inner form.  It cannot come from outside to the inside but must emerge from within.”  Notice how he stresses that truth comes primarily from within—it may be triggered by others, but it is essentially our intuition at work.  Through art, we share it with others.  And there is great joy in that along with healthy critical feedback.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Original Blessing, pp 190, 189.

Banner Image: Poster paint swirled into a fantastic psychedelic pattern with loads of bright rainbow colors. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

Have you, like Hildegard, been healed by creativity?  Have you assisted others to do the same?

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4 thoughts on “Creativity – Continued”

  1. Avatar


    It‘s the hours when nature speaks to me that I feel most alive and most connected to the “Within”.
    I like the word “Within”.
    It expresses connection, introspection, concentration and depth.
    It suggests an invisible something that lives in the quiet, in a still interior space, where it rests comfortably and very content with itself.

    “Being With In” sounds like being with somebody or something in a peaceful place, unconditionally accepted, welcomed and embraced.
    A sanctuary where you are not alone.
    It feels warm and soft, spacious and fluid where movements are gentle and slow, adhering to the contours of your presence.
    No sharp edges. No angular shapes. No rough or serrated surroundings.
    It’s a place of softness in sound and touch, where everything is letting you know:

    “It’s all right to be here.
    All is well and everything is how it should be.
    All is where it needs to be.
    You are Here.
    You are safe and you are welcome.
    Stay as long as you wish.
    Here is glad to have you.
    Here is your home.”

    It’s a place of arrival. A dwelling where your self is waiting for you – always.
    Here you can rest and recover and be still as long as you wish, as long as you must, in order to heal and regain clarity, strength and courage to meet the external world once more and anew.

    “Within” never moves. It’s always open and has space for you.
    Nobody and nothing is waiting so patiently for you every minute of your life,
    all of your life.
    “Within” sits with you and listens and only speaks when you would like it to.
    It’s like a trusted old friend who shares the room with you in silence,
    placing her hand on your shoulder if needed, simply holding you in her loving presence.
    “Within” is the spaciousness and infinite care,
    the all encompassing understanding and love living in you.

    Knowing this, is tremendously calming and comforting.
    Just think about it: You carry your own support system, your own monastery with you at all times as long as you live.
    What greater gift can you wish for throughout your life?

    “Within” is timeless and eternal.
    It is the breath before you take your first inhale.
    It is the breath after your last exhale.
    “Within” is your center and your balance and it knows you like no other.
    It lives in silence with the answers to all of your questions.

    Now tell me, what is more soothing and consoling than this?
    You carry wisdom, strength and courage in the deepest core of yourself.
    “Within” is the source and it resides in you.
    It is you before you even knew that you are.

    Remember the moments when you felt: “I’ve heard that before” or “Why do I know that somehow? – How could I forget? It was the first thing they told me.”

    So who is “They”?
    You don’t know?
    Perhaps it’s not “They” at all.
    Perhaps it’s “Something” that told you.
    Something that filled you with all you needed to know and all you needed to be
    in order to get here and breathe among all this,
    forgetting what you already knew while the outside tried to teach you
    how to sit and stand and walk yourself through what everyone calls life.

    “Within” never forgets. It knows and so do you.
    You just don’t remember and the unknown makes you anxious, doubtful and unsure.
    You have lost faith and with it the connection to “Within”. Your within.

    So your life seems to become one continuous arrangement of question after unsettling question.
    “Live the question”, Rilke says and probably knows what each “Within” knows:
    Your questions are only questions now, at this very moment of your life.
    They weren’t questions before.
    Before you felt taking your first breath, you knew everything
    and you knew your self.
    You knew who you are.
    You knew “Within”.
    You were “Within”.
    You were in “That Who Knows”.
    No becoming necessary! Oh what a wonderful world you left!
    No wonder that you feel lost and confused, searching for your bearings now.
    Now you have to live the forgotten again, so that by living,
    you shall find the answers to your questions.
    All you actually need to do is “Remember” and who helps you with this seemingly impossible process?
    The one who doesn’t forget: “Within”.

    Almost everybody of every generation forgets as soon as he or she arrives,
    completely overwhelmed by the complexity of life.
    Nobody told us that we would land in life alone, naked and helpless.
    Or did something tell us?
    Did we listen?

    Generation after generation we didn’t listen to the one that came before us.
    The elders, the wise, the ones who knew and lived from “Within”.
    So they took the answers with them. They left with the source.
    We will do the same and leave behind the ones who didn’t care to ask.

    Wisdom of the world – all given to the first never reaching the last.

    So what, if we would spend more time “Within”?
    What if we paused and visited that quiet place of connection, introspection, concentration and depth more often?
    What if we sat just as comfortably and content as our faithful companion “Within”
    every day in that tranquil space and rest, become still and aware of our Becoming?
    What if we reconnect with our source humming:

    “Welcome back.
    It’s all right to be here.
    You are and you are who you were meant to be.
    You are where you need to be.
    You are Here.
    You are safe and you are welcomed.
    Stay as long as you wish.
    Here is glad to have you.
    Here is your home.
    Come back often.”

    With loving-kindness,
    Manuela Tulle

  2. Avatar

    Yes, I know that the story of me being creative when I performed stand-up comedy years ago put my life together. It gave me insights to help people. Matt Fox validates our lives with these meditations. Great !

    1. Avatar

      Thank you very much Billy.
      I am delighted that you enjoy my writing.
      Yes these are my thoughts and my own words …
      … and there are quite a few more that I have found “Within” in English and in German.
      They visit in those quiet hours and I gently ask them if I can carry them onto the page.
      Seeing them in a book one day would be a dream come true.

      Thank you again.
      May you be safe too
      In gratitude for all life,

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