Art as Meditation and Personal and Social Healing, continued

Lately we have been meditating on the brilliance and beauty of Jennifer Hereth’s work as an artist that she puts to the purpose of healing, both personal and social healing.  She so incarnates the teaching of art as meditation, what psychologists Naranjo and Ornstein remind us is “the way of the prophets.” 

“Broken” Teenage Archetype Card by Jennifer Hereth, on Facebook. Published with permission of the artist.

The way therefore of interfering with injustice and with suffering itself, the way of healing from trauma and so many sufferings people undergo especially in this time of climate change and a global pandemic.  I love how Jennifer has put her gifts into the hands of others, empowering them to tell their deepest stories.

She is not alone in this of course.  All the creation mystics have turned to art to express their deepest experiences from Hildegard of Bingen (who composed music and painted mandalas and other archetypal pictures, wrote books and the first opera of the West and so much else); to Francis of Assisi and John of the Cross (poetry) and Meister Eckhart who said that our creativity is the “spark of God” and the Holy Spirit working within us and Julian of Norwich who shared her 16 visions that came to her in her near death experience and Thomas Merton whose poetry, Zen drawing, books and photography marked his life as a monk and mystic and prophet. 

To be continued

See Matthew Fox, “Deep Ecumenism, Ecojustice, and Art as Meditation” and “Otto Rank on the Artistic Journey as a Spiritual Journey, the Spiritual Journey as an Artistic Journey,” in Matthew Fox, Wrestling with the Prophets, pp. 199-242. 

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

See also Jennifer Hereth, An Artist Responds to Political Injustice (Charleston SC: Palmetto Publishing, 2020).

Banner Image: A refugee woman weeps outside her tent. Painting by Jennifer Hereth, auctioned off to raise funds for medical supplies for Syrian refugees. From, with permission.

For a transcript of today’s video teaching, click HERE.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you recognize the profound role that creativity plays in your spiritual life?  And those of other great mystics and prophets?

Upcoming Events

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5 thoughts on “Art as Meditation and Personal and Social Healing, continued”

  1. Avatar

    Art in all its varied forms and diversity expresses well the “language” of the heart that in turn expresses what the heart “hears” in the “voice” of Divine LOVE. }:- a.m.

    Hoofnote: Whether painting, sculpture, poetry and more, art is the language of the heart for its Lover.

  2. Avatar

    It is well to be reminded of the shadow side of creativity, as Matthew points out. There must be discipline and intention to direct creativity toward construction, not destruction. We have certainly seen the power of the destructive not only in nuclear weapons but also in the intentional destruction of human rights across the globe. Art has been used as propaganda for sheer evil as well.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, thank you for your comment, and I get what you are saying–that is what Matthew’s book, SINS OF THE SPIRIT, BLESSIINGS OF THE FLESH is all about. However, I would say that while weapons and such things are the result of human creativity, I would never call them art. They serve utilitarian purposes, even if bad ones.

  3. Avatar

    I agree that weapons are not art. I have and treasure that book. I was also thinking of art misused as propaganda in the way that the Soviets distorted all art and media to reflect political messages and the way that Hitler and others used them to demonize Jews and other “enemies of the state”. You will say that these are not art either, probably, although I suspect that some Russian artists managed as best they could to get some real creativity into their work secretly.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Thank you for your comment, Sue. I’m sure that Russian artists–and I know for sure there were German and Austrian artists–who did continue their work in secret

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