Tag Archive: wisdom

tree with overarching branches

You are God’s servants, gifted with her Wisdom and visions
Upon you rests the grace of God like a woven cloak
Love and serve the Divine in the strength of the Spirit.
May the deep peace of God take root in you, the open arms of Christa sustain you and the eucharistic power of the Holy Spirit transform you in every way.

A feminist reworking of the Urban Seed/Credo/Seeds benediction for the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies planning day.


Over a series of weeks we will dip into a breadth of creative activities, drawing from a variety of resources, that invite us into a space where we encounter God and reflect on our Christian life and praxis. To give a loose sense of connection across the series we’ll frame them with an Opening, close with a Benediction and include a time of prayer each week.  We recognise everyone as spiritual beings and welcome people of all faiths and none.  We encourage you to bring a journal or blank notebook if you have one.


The activity this week is taken from:

The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom

This book by Christine Valters Paintner draws on The Rule of St. Benedict summarised in the phrase “pray and work,” it explores the mutually nourishing relationship between contemplative practices and creative expression.

We did the Wisdom cards activity together.

For those playing at home you will need:

  • 3 x sheets A5 watercolour paper (for each person)
  • Invisible tape
  • Watercolours
  • Paintbrushes
  • Pens to write
  • Magazines to cut up words and images
  • Glue sticks

The first thing we do is prayerfully consider a question we might ask our inner child (what do you visualise when you hear the words “inner child”?) –  write this question on the back of one of your A5 sheets of paper. You can decide for yourself if you want your canvass landscape or potrait!

[Tip: This is not a magic 8 ball.  You will get a lot more out of this exercise if you ask BIG open-ended, existential type questions like “Who am I?” and “What is the meaning of all of this?” over small questions like “Should I buy tickets for the Mumford and Sons concert?”]

Next, our inner Wise One (what do you visualise when your hear the words “inner Wise One” or monk?)  – write this question on the back of another of your sheets of A5 paper.

And thirdly, a question we might ask them both together.

Turn these so they are blank side up and shuffle them around so you aren’t sure which question is on which card.  Now tape them down to the table, blank side up, with the invisible tape.  This stops the paper moving around while you’re painting and gives your work a clean border when you peel it off later.

If you’re resource sharing, at this point some might paint while others cut up magazines.  It doesn’t matter what order you do this in.  Flick through some magazines and cut out anything that jumps out at you. Words, phrases, images… anything that captures your attention or seems to speak to you.  Once you have a decent pile in front of you switch to painting and colour as you feel.  Some will instinctively feel bright and light, or dark; be highly detailed or minimal splashes of colour – there is no right or wrong way to do this. Go with your gut.

Now collage. Drawing from your pile – try this image with that phrase – does it fit with this one of your cards or that one?  You might need to go back to the magazines, you might find you only use 10 of the 40 things you cut out. It doesn’t matter.  Your cards will kind of speak to you, when the right words and images are assembled you will hear them and know that the card is “finished” and you can glue everything down in place.

Now you can gently peel away the invisible tape and see which question is written on the back of which card. Consider what synergy there is between our questions and these creative answers, the premise being we can often know answers to our own questions but we have to sneak up on ourselves to figure it out. Write these reflections in your journal.

Find somewhere to prop your  cards for a week where they can be a visual cue.  In a week, sit with your notebook again and see if there is any further learning/awareness to be drawn from your wisdom cards.



I will tell you something about stories
[he said]
They aren’t just entertainment
Don’t be fooled.
They are all we have you see.
All we have to fight off illness and death.

You don’t have anything if
you don’t have stories.
Their evil is mighty
but it can’t stand up to our stories.
So they try to destroy the stories.
Let the stories be confused or forgotten.
They would like that…
Because we would be defenceless then…

Leslie Marmon Silco – Ceremony

Stories are all we have – the hermeneutic approach of the Bartimaeus Institute.

Native Americans make storytelling dolls out of pottery – collecting the clay is a spiritual and mindful process, native plants and minerals are used for the colours and designs, shaped and smoothed by hand, sanded, slip coats applied and then hand polished – a lengthy and involved process.  These beautiful artworks generally depict an elder with children in their lap,  honouring the oral tradition of the culture, validating the importance of each persons voice in family/community and the importance of the role of storytellers in society for keeping awareness alive.

MLK once said: the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.  That is to say that we need to draw on the wisdom of tradition, history and our elders to better understand ourselves and the world in which we live.

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God.  It is the Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made God known (Greek: exegesato) – Jesus ‘decodes’ gives meaning to God.

Luke 10:25-30, 36f
A) What must I do to inherit eternal life?
B) What’s written in the Torah? How do you read it?
C) Love the Lord your God
D) Given right answer. Do this.
E) Who is my nieghbour?
F) Who was neighbour to the robbed man?
G) One who showed mercy.
H) Go and do it.

3 disciplines of interpretation: what stands? how do we read it? what do we do with it?

Who around you has stories you could be learning from?  Are you making space to hear them?
If you live a life trying to be like Jesus, what are the ways in which your life points to or gives meaning to God?
What ways does what you read influence/affect praxis in your life?

We need wisdom that is older, wider, deeper than we are – sacred stories provide that.  Listening to the old stories needs to be central to any expression of faith that is related to transformation. We need to have a practise of returning to the well of imagination.