“All of us are creative. We can all become more creative through engaging our inner-self in our process. Creativity is the natural order of life, nothing we need to invent. Put simply, creativity is our gift. Our use of it is our gift to ourselves. We are intended to be creative.” ~ Julia Cameron.
Well, that is sort of how the quote goes. But Julia told us to change it. Honest.
Before the holidays, as I mentioned in a previous post, I took a sneak peek into The Complete Artists Way. I figured I should at least get a sense of what I was up against in 2010. Little did I know, what awaited me three-quarters of the way down the first page of the intro.
The introduction. I had barely opened the front cover and settled into my seat on the GO Bus, and I was already questioning my 20-10 journey to self-discovery.
There it was. That word.
I continued on another 40 pages anyway.
20-10 was a year of change. As Julia Cameron would later state, “Do not allow semantics to become one more block for you”, and that is how I tried to look at; and I was glad I did.
Further into the introduction, Julia asks the reader to replace the word God with whatever your belief system is. Not that I know what it is, but for now, I have replaced the word with inner-self or Creator.
I tried hard not to look further with scepticism. To get over my hang-up with the use of the word God. To be more positive. Open-minded.
“Just because people don’t believe (you don’t believe), doesn’t mean others should have to avoid words that are such a big part of them.” That is what I said to myself.
I did not grow up with religion in my life. In fact, I don’t even know my father’s stand on the subject. All I can recollect about his experiences with church, are the stories told about how when he and his four brothers were younger, my grandmother would drop them all off at church on Sundays, and no sooner had her car turned the corner, than they snuck off out the back door of the church to play.
I know my mother believes in God, and my sister attended church from time to time with family and friends growing up, but religion rarely, if at all, was a topic in our household.
Needless to say, I never attended church as a child, except for weddings and funerals. I do recall going to Sunday school at least once, but living across the street from a church for 15 years is about as close as I ever got to the inside of one, for most of my life.
That is until I met a certain someone.
Her family was Catholic, and although she didn’t go to church on a regular basis, one day her mother asked her to start going more often.
“I’ll go with you”, I stated. She looked at me like I was nuts. “Really?”
To be honest, those were the moments that we spent together, that I cherished most. Sunday mornings holding hands, coffee after mass with her family. I felt a little out of place as I had no idea what I was or wasn’t supposed to do, but her and her family made me feel comfortable in those surroundings, as I looked to them for guidance.
It was peaceful. I just listened and watched on. People dressed in their Sunday best. Families together. Perhaps the rare moments many of those families were able to be together in these busy times.
The priest was very pleasant and joked a bit. The Lakeshore church was beautiful, surrounded with trees and various shades of green.
Not long after I started attending church the odd Sunday with my friend and her family, I decided I wanted to learn more about her faith, so I inquired at a church local to me, about RCIA (Catholicism Classes).
Sunday Faith & Father Jim
Every Sunday for 6 months, I woke up early and walked up the street to one of the many churches in my old neighbourhood. We started upstairs at the early Mass, and then headed downstairs for class afterward. I found it very spiritual. We shared our dreams and fears, and of course, studied from the bible and learned about the various traditions surrounding the holidays and what they meant to a person of Catholic faith.
Father Jim was the priests’ name. He had been dealt a few curve balls in life to say the least, and had many touching stories to tell about the places and people he had met through his life’s travels. I had not known many people outside my grandfather and my cousin, who could tell a story so well. Those stories in all honesty, are probably what kept me attending church for as long as I did.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the people and the peace I found in my heart during the time I spent among the congregation, but I found myself mesmerized by father Jim’s stories most of all.
He could make you laugh, cry, and truly feel his experiences, but then he would come around to how that story related to that weeks sermon; his lesson, and he would lose me.
I kept going nonetheless; learning, and now I had started going through the motions of becoming a Catholic. Even though the best part of those Sundays wasn’t about God, there was something special about those moments, that made me want to belong.
Finding My Religion – On the Road
Just before it was time to take that final step, I decided to go away for a couple of days by myself to be alone with my thoughts and give some serious consideration to this rather monumental decision that I now faced.
I took a drive up #6 Highway, followed it to the end, to a place I had never been before. I had heard many great stories about this Bruce Peninsula town, but I had yet to see it for myself.
It was early April. Cold. The ground was still covered in snow; the lakes still frozen over, but with a collection of my favorite CD’s; David Usher, John Mayer, Teitur, etc., a bag full of harmonicas, and my digital camera, I hopped in my little 5-speed and went on a spiritual journey through country roads to the open, frozen waters, of Georgian Bay.
I arrived in Tobermory late evening, checked in, and headed back to the outskirts of town, to a diner I had seen on the way in for some eats. With it being off season, the town was pretty quiet when I arrived, and not much, if anything, was open.
After a quiet meal amongst a few locals, I headed back to the hotel, grabbed my camera, and wandered out into the dark, baron roads that circled Little Tub Harbor, to ask the questions through my camera lens.
It was quiet. Serene. The perfect place to be as I searched my soul for the answers as to which road to turn down at this point in my life’s journey.
In the morning, I took my time eating my breakfast as I looked out the wall of glass, at the sun reflecting off the snow covered harbour outside.
I hit the road again after breakfast, stopping often along the way to take pictures. I was just hours from home, and I still didn’t know what I was supposed to do?
As I drove, as the music played, my mind wondered to different places. But then, suddenly, in the absence of specific thought and constant questions, my answer appeared out of my passenger door window.
It was a church. A little, almost doll-like church. Smaller than I had ever seen before. Like a tree house of faith.
I pulled over, stepped out of my car, and was humbled by the fact that this church was hardly taller than my 5’11” self.
I went inside. I sat down. Sat in silence for a little while. Looked around. Signed the registry, and stood at the front of the room, staring back at the tiny, empty wooden pews of this quaint little sanctuary.
As I left, I took a moment to add that image to the photo album of my journey. I had found my faith. I knew what I had to do.
I met with the lady who ran the RCIA classes the next morning, and told her what I had decided. It was the last time I stepped foot in that Herkimer St church.
I realized that day amongst those four little walls, that religion, faith, comes in may shapes and sizes. How could I choose one? So I chose none. I chose to believe in my heart. To simply believe and put my faith in me, because I am the only one who can make this life good. I am the only one who knows how to make me happy. So now I looked inward, rather than outward.
I have been receiving these inspiring messages in my email inbox, from a man by the name of Steve Goodier for many years now. Perhaps since the earliest days of his daily e-newsletter.
The messages seemed to fill that void that had been missing since those touching stories of Father Jim’s.
Oddly enough, I would learn a year or two later, that Steve Goodier was a minister. Not that it mattered either way, but I found it significant.
What I love about Steve’s writing, is that he doesn’t write about God, or even use the word from what I can re-collect of the hundreds of messages of his that I have read.
I believe that references to religion can change a story. One word. Not that I think people should hide their religion or avoid using words that truly mean something to them., and are a big part of who they are.
Do I believe in a Creator? Possibly. I know my mother and father created me, and my wife and I created our two sweet little girls. We planted the seeds.
I guess I part of me doesn’t think it really matters, if there is a God or if Jesus or any other character of religion, ever existed. If they did/do, I am grateful for their gifts. Their sacrifices.
What I do know, is that there are some amazing people living in this world. People I know or have known, or even those I do not know around the world, creating change. Sacrificing their time and their lives, to help others in need. People of various faiths.
Treat the world and all creatures with respect. Help others, offer a hand, open a door, and don’t purposely hurt another being .Love thy neighbor, and your community will truly be a home.
Perhaps I will find God or a specific faith somewhere along my path, but for now, life is my religion, and my inner-self is my creator. My Creative Self.
Finding Faith in Red Hill Valley
There was another spiritual journey that took place when I lived on Herkimer Street that summer. It was quite possibly there in the Valley, that my faith journey truly began. It was those experiences that made me second guess the decision that would follow early the following spring.
I spent much of those first summer moths in Red Hill Valley with the locals and Native Indians, as I joined their fight to save Red Hill from being paved over.
The battle was lost and a highway now divides our city, but praying, listening to the drums beat through my soul, and one late night sweat lodge in honor of a fallen bear, were actually moments that lead my creative and spiritual journey.
I guess to sum up my Faith at 36, I truly believe we all need faith of some shape or form – whatever that faith is. I just believe that it is something best found on one’s own, and not pushed down your throat.
I leave you tonight, with a little something funny, yet serious at the same time. This song below, is one of my all time favorite songs.
I have been wanting to try out this Garage Band program on the Mac we purchased a short while ago, so I thought I would have a little fun. This was my second attempt. I chose the version that didn’t have my dog howling with me in the background.
As well, you can also watch the slide show from that winter faith journey below, or watch the full screen slideshow here.
Have a great night.