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Artists and the Secret of Sacred Solitude

Artists and the Secret of Sacred Solitude

If you long to grow spiritually as well as creatively, you must learn the truths of artists and the secret of sacred solitude. Beyond the myths of living a wild bohemian life and the lure of drug induced inspiration, is the sacred secret of solitude. For it is only when we face our fears, frustrations and the dark caverns of our soul that we can offer art which invites our audience into a deeper and more fulfilling life.

God has designed us as emotional beings. Our emotions affect and reflect our life, our work and our relationships. God has designed us to understand our hearts, as we listen to the voice of our Creator. Herein lies a place to grieve, a place to love, a place to mourn, and a place to find hope.

Solitude and loneliness are naturally quite different. We can choose solitude, or have it thrust upon us by a quarantine or other external reality. However, we have a choice in how we deal with solitude. In short – we need not be lonely. There is always someone we can call, send a quick message or invite over for a meal. Yet, you need time alone to think, listen, and create.

Driven to Distraction

Now, more than ever, we are assaulted by endless sources of news, entertainment and needless distraction. Often our problem is not the lack of life experience, but the failure to stop, to listen to our hearts and to process what we are going through. This problem is particularly acute among western Europeans and first world countries. We have too many fangled things to distract our attention, while neglecting our soul.

Facing our Emotions

Ingmar Bergman developed the habit later in life of keeping simple habits, as he finally settled down. Amidst the simplicity, he realized,

“Here, in my solitude, I have the feeling I contain too much humanity.”

There is a richness in the still quite moments. We don’t need some external force, drug or person to give us that richness. We need the time to be quite and listen. Joe Fassler put it this way in his article for The Atlantic,

“I’ve often met artists who say it’s good to smoke marijuana or do this or that it will do things for things for your creativity. But basically, that’s just an excuse to take it. If you’ve got humanity pouring out of your veins, you don’t need anything to trigger it.”

Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art (affiliate link) explores this theme powerfully. It takes courage to sit in silence, to sit with your humanity. It takes perseverance to express your heart, your emotions, and to give flesh to our ideas. Sacred solitude is required if we are to speak into our culture and our communities with depth.

Facing our Creator

One of my favorite quotes by Blaise Pascal speaks to this same challenge.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Christians are not unique in this manner. We run from dealing with our own heart. We run to distraction, to sin, to theology, and to anything we can find. Yet one thing is needed. Like Mary, we need to sit at the feet of Jesus, and face our creator. He is the one who can show us meaning and give us hope.

The Psalms are often helpful in this process. Consider these verses from Psalm 17,

“I call on you, my God, For you will answer me; Turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonders of your great love.”

The bible gives us this theme over and over. We long to be in relationship with God, even though we wince and hide ourselves because of our sin and shame. The beauty of the birth of Christ as well as the cross, is that God made it possible for us to be in his presence. He made it possible to be face to face. This is where we learn what it means to be loved, forgiven, and rescued. It is where we find hope, and the reason we take communion.

Slow Down to Experience the Benefits of Being Artists and the Secret of Sacred Solitude

God wants to heal your heart so you need to slow down, to sit at his feet, in solitude with your savior. He won’t force you. He may use circumstances to provoke your soul to run to him, but he will wait for you no matter what. He is waiting to bring healing to your soul, and to create within you a deeper well of joy and creativity.

We cannot understand our hearts, unless we run to the one who created us. He is the one who can show us ourselves, in a merciful way. He is the one who can remind you that your identity is first and foremost as his child, whom he loves. We must start here if we are to be whole, and if we are to speak life to others through our art and our work.

Facing our Community

The secret of sacred solitude is that we emerge from solitude more fully human. Once we are aware of our own heart and our own struggles, we can be more compassionate to our family as well as our audience. Once we have spent time with God, we should emerge more humble and more hopeful. This is because we have experienced God’s love for us.

While solitude is essential, we must return to community. We cannot love God only in private. We cannot spend our whole life in the studio. We demonstrate our love for God by loving our neighbor. This is the point of community. It will require forgiveness as well as repentance. It will require listening as well as speaking. Yet our lives, like our creative endeavors, find their depth in the context of an audience and a community. The solitude gives us what we need to be more whole, more human and more compassionate to those around us.

Creativity

Creativity requires growth. We cannot be stagnant in our faith or our art. We need growth beyond new techniques, new tools, and new markets. We need to keep growing as children of God so that our life is a fragrant aroma to others. We also need to keep growing as creatives – God never calls us to relent on pushing ourselves creatively. Like the parable of the talents, he is calling you and me to keep pushing ourselves creatively while growing spiritually.

So take some time in sacred solitude. Face the emotions you are experiencing, and the challenges in life you are enduring. Then take them in prayer and face your creator. Let his love wash over you, and his mercy refresh your soul. Let God transform your life, your art and your soul. Let Him fuel your creativity, and enable your art to flourish.

Copyright © 2020 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.
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6 comments on “Artists and the Secret of Sacred Solitude”

  1. Todd Syswerda Reply

    I’ve been in this season of “sitting in silence and stillness” – not by my choice but, I believe, completely by God’s design. It has been difficult but necessary and your words only encourage me. Thank you!

  2. Olushola Reply

    Thank you, Joel.
    I look forward to practice solitude more intently soon.

    Is there a practical approach you can recommend to fully maximize hours spent in solitude?

    • Joel Pelsue Reply

      Olushola,

      Reading Scripture is always good. I recommend the psalms as a guide to express your heart to God. It can be exceptionally helpful to take Psalms that you resonate with and put them into your own words. Make sure to include a time of silence to listen for God to speak to you through what you have read. Time spent in worship is always helpful as well. If you don’t play an instrument like guitar or piano, you can play a CD, an MP3, or use online resources like YouTube, Spotify, Itunes, or Amazon Music. The resources are all there.

      God promises that as we lift up our eyes and worship Him, that he will lift up our hearts and restore the joy of our salvation.

      May God bless you richly as you pursue him in this season.

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