As the saying goes: ‘Change does not always come easy.’ Sometimes it happens quickly, and other times it drags on slowly like a scary thunderstorm throughout a dark night. We can hardly wait till it’s over, and yet have no control over its power. Change has power. For it can be transformative. Change is what happens on the outside, transformation occurs within. Working through the changing of this website was often met with internal challenges that I hadn’t anticipated. Letting go of The Songroom was difficult, for I have been using this reference for a long time – for over 20+ years to be exact. In some ways it felt like experiencing the death of a loved one, with all the memories of where the journey had taken me, flooding me at times with so many details of experiences that I had forgotten about, but nonetheless had shaped my life in meaningful ways. Letting go was filled with many life lessons; most likely the greatest of these was attachment. I humbly admit, I wept often.
The Songroom began in the 90’s as a record label. It evolved out of my first independent CD recording – ‘notes after the rainstorm.’ Over time, as my studies continued, the label began to morph into what I was doing as a practitioner. The convergence of art and spirituality was setting the pathway toward my personal and professional integration; as an artist, as a practitioner, facilitator, educator, and as a person. The ‘brand’ became more of a destination, seeking the tender space and place within that nurtures the call and direction of the soul’s voice. I began to establish myself as a Spiritual Arts Practitioner, and with this also came the call to work toward gathering community, teaching about different aspects of self and spiritual development, and to commit to what it means to nurture a ‘sense of belonging’ and what happens in the case where we experience the loss of that precious element, so necessary for the survival of healthy relationships, but most importantly, a healthy spiritual life.
As the journey continued to unfold, I felt drawn toward finding a way to deal with aspects of spiritual illness, and the issues that can cause disruption in our relationships, and the power of self-inflicted chaos that can cause tumultuous energy in our lives. One particular maelstrom that caught my attention is a disease of the soul known as acedia: the absence of care. I name this ‘demon’ the “Soul Thief.” I used to refer to it as spiritual grief, but eventually came to understand that as one of the myriad of consequences of the power of this vice. After reading Kathleen Norris’ bestseller: Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life, I felt affirmed in my intuitive thinking and began the process of my Doctorate work. Spring boarding on the preliminary ideas that I had presented during the course of two Master degrees, I took the leap of faith into deeper waters, and into the historical archives of the ancient monastic life of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, to seek out clues to this timeless agony known as acedia. Variations on a theme of the malaise and references as such can be found as far back as the Old Testament, and I even have wondered if there is a connection with Gilgamesh’s sorrow dating back thousands and thousands of years? For there is such a thing as ‘the sorrow of the soul.’
Being both a multi-media artist and a practitioner, throughout the years of my studies and my life, I felt nudged, pushed and pulled, yanked, shaped, formed, healed and transformed as a result of the convergence of art and spirituality. Convergence can serve as a mutable alchemy that takes place when we bring our inward expressions of art into the light – regardless of how raw they may be – and the value of our spiritual lives in tension with each other. They may not initially appear to be in tangent, however – if we give ourselves permission to enter into a dialogue, a conversation can be heard: between you and your authentic self: your soul. And I believe we have the responsibility to listen – and to listen deeply, very deeply. I have spent years developing a practical pastoral model of reflection on how this conversation might be able to take place.
My studies affirmed for me my preliminary questions; that despite thousands of pages of literature available on the topic of acedia, few know what it truly is, and furthermore, how it may affect our lives, with very dire consequences I may add. Like other symptoms of disease, unless we are made aware of our illnesses, it is difficult to heal, and we continue to remain ill. Such is the case with the nature of the soul. Our souls can become diseased and we are not even aware let alone can define what is causing the storms in our lives, or a deep feeling of ennui we sometimes experience. We can become complacent, or we may suffer with feelings of unworthiness, an avid restlessness, and anxiety, or a lost sense of purpose. We become vague with our understanding of beliefs, and values, and lose sight of how to deal with the challenges in our lives. Our ‘do-goodness’ can actually become a shield of denial, as we become so filled with a sense of ‘busy-ness’ that we lose sight of who we truly are. Ultimately, we have no recognition of ‘who we are called to become’ in this world. Acedia has very dire consequences: the ultimate of these is suicide.
We are at a loss of who and how to serve the world, as we lose sight of what the true mission of the soul really is: to fulfill the image in which we have been created, and our mission to serve the world; to serve the ‘other’ in some capacity. I questioned if acedia is a causality of identity crisis. And, I firmly believe that by converging art and spirituality, and entering into a deep dialogue with ourselves, we can come to understand not only the nature of what ails us at certain times in our lives, but beyond this, the process can also lead us toward the portals of transformation, as we communicate with Self. I believe it is a dialogue that needs to take place often, and is a suitable means of personal and spiritual discovery regardless of our religious or spiritual aspirations or affiliations. Converging art and spirituality can truly lead us to the pathways of joy, for it resonates of the language beyond language. Finding the means in which to demonstrate this concretely and to establish a means of soul care that can help us define for ourselves the reality of spiritual illness became not only one of my professional goals but a personal one as well. I was transformed by the convergence of my own art and spirituality – thus the birth of The Art of Soul Care: a place and space serving to nurture your needs for spiritual renewal, connection and belonging.
And so folks, that’s a bit of the tale. I hope you will find yourself rooted in this community, and participate in many of the upcoming events, workshops, and retreats. There is a full summer planned, and the fall schedule is already filling up! We are a community of seekers, looking to deepen our spiritual commitments and grow ourselves into a world that is in dire need of our service. If you feel curious, inspired or feel the need to go deeper into what all of this is about, feel free to drop me a line or give me a call. Thank you for being here, thank you for listening. I look forward to journeying with you, as we set out to launch these new chapters in our lives together.
Blessings, peace, joy and love for your journey,