Doodling a Connection to God

I recently came across a great article on Kyria about a new way to pray. By doodling, coloring, and painting.

I’ve long believed that art is a fantastic way to express worship I just didn’t know how I could participate. I suck at painting and drawing. I want to be able to show my emotions, experiences, prayers and desires in living color. I have amazing landscapes and pictures in my mind. However, getting them out onto a paper is impossible. I can barely draw stick figures. I am in perpetual awe of people who can express themselves through art.

Over the past few years my photography has become a way for me to connect God. When I’m out taking photos I feel like I have a different perspective and one of my favorite subjects is nature. My favorite lens is the macro. I love getting down to the nitty gritty examining everything up close. I suppose that reveals a lot about my nature as well. I am an analytical, nitty gritty kind of person.

Yet there is something about the ability to create your art with your own hands, through your imagination, creating something from nothing. I believe that just as God is a creator, so are we. He gave us that gift so we can connect with him.  I love color and to color. I get excited with a new box of crayons. A few years ago I met a friend through my blog that introduced me to a new form of art, mixed media. She is amazing. Her art includes drawing, painting, photos, cards and so many other pieces that she brilliantly pulls together to create something so beautiful and unique. I am in perpetual awe of what she can do.

One time I even won a contest on her blog and received a pack of materials to use to create my own works of “art.” I sat and looked at the pieces and had no idea what to do. It was anything but spiritual a better metaphor would be constipation. I just couldn’t express anything. So all of the beautiful pieces remain just that, pieces in a box, mocking me. I have a longing in my soul to be creative and to connect with God in that way. I think it could be powerful and liberating, but why can’t I do it?

So I’m excited about spiritual doodling. Doodling I can do. I have been a life-long doodler. It’s how I concentrate. In meetings at work people knew I was paying attention if I was drawing squiggles on my paper. It was how I stayed present and focused. If I didn’t I was daydreaming. Through college the margins of all my notes are full of  doodles of trees, flowers, squiggles, and initials. Maybe that’s why I love gel pens, they glide so effortlessly across the page as I color in my streams of consciousness.

There is no pressure in a doodle. No one is going to see it but me. No one is going to judge it. I don’t have to be perfect. What I create doesn’t have to be perfect. Aaah. Perfectionism. My former line of work, marketing, is creative yet what you produce has to sell a product. The rational side of my brain argues that the marketing work isn’t personal, it’s work. But the work is my creation. The copy, art direction, and ideas are mine. They are an expression of me, how I think, how I see the world. When they are rejected I feel rejected. I don’t have a thick skin. It often feels too risky to me to be 100% open.

Let the “art” be a free-flowing prayer that no one ever has to see (hidden between you and God). – Miller

I like it! I can do that! I went and retrieved my crayons and colors pencils from storage along with an empty journal. I’m ready. I think. Luckily Miller includes some opening exercises to stimulate expression.

ACTIVITY 1: Take a few moments to draw a picture of your spiritual journey. Perhaps you may want to use a poster board for this. Consider the following questions: What color is my faith journey? Has the path been straight, upward moving, or circuitous? Where am I on the path? Where is God, my family, my friends? What does the environment of my faith path look like?

ACTIVITY 2: Consider negative components of your life (rejection, disregard, disconnection, death to dreams). Draw an image of the way God could turn the negativity into something good (rejection to acceptance, disconnect to connection, loss to growth). As you create, consider: What does it look like for God to work all things for good in my life? What shape, what colors, what space is needed for God’s transformative redeeming work?

These are the two I’m going to start with. We’ll see what happens. We’ll see if I can stick with it. Generally I get stuck and give up. Will this work help me to connect with God or just be another exercise in futility and frustration?

Miller also offers a word of caution that might help: As we explore, remember that the value is in connecting with the Creator, not in the creative experience alone. It’s not about me and what I can produce, it’s about the connection that is created. This isn’t a work that is validated only in as much as it serves as a vehicle for communication between me and God. The doodling makes me brain slow down so I can stay in the moment and stay connected to what he is showing or telling me. It will be divine doodling.

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About Marti

After a year-long sabbatical in Southern California I am returning to Ohio to try and resume my life. Who knew you went home again to start living.

Posted on May 14, 2011, in Spiritual Formation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Oh, I love this divine doodling! I love how you’re going outside the box of what “prayer” is, what we all think it looks like, and it struck me while reading, that photographing prayers would be interesting too.

    I clicked on the link to the artist you mentioned and was surprised to see it was me. LOL! Thank you, Marti, you are very kind. It’s so funny, I have a hard time with my creative stuff, with sharing it. Eeep.

    I hope the papers can be inspiring to you and not something that weighs on you. (Sometimes, I just like to look at pretty paper even if I don’t do anything with it).

    Best of luck with your new prayer practice. I hope it is soothing for you, and leads to deeper understanding.

  2. LOL – that is so funny that you were surprised it was you. I wanted to include a piece of your work as an example of how great you are but Flickr wouldn’t let me, the code that it provided just yielded a red x. Ironically the title of the piece is – until i get it right. How funny is that! Did you take down some of your work, there was one I had marked as a fave that’s gone – it included some pink and light red roses.

    This week I’m hoping to dive into the process this week. I think its gonna be cool, we’ll see what emerges.

  3. “Doodling a Connection to God Marti’s Musings” was indeed definitely pleasurable and useful! Within todays universe honestly, that is challenging to deliver. Thank you, Mai

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