Skip to main content
Center for Action and Contemplation
Art and Contemplation
Art and Contemplation

Art and Contemplation: Weekly Summary

Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Divine takes the lead in changing places. Maybe artists have easier access to this Mystery than many theologians.  
—Richard Rohr 

Too often, art is considered decorative, and it is significantly more than that. Engaging with art means we have to slow down to allow a new experience to enter which perhaps cannot be accessed in another way.  
—Lourdes Bernard 

Art also carves pathways toward our inner isles of spirituality. When we decide to live in our heads only, we become isolated from the God who is closer than our next breath. The restoration of wonder is the beginning of the inward journey toward God.  
—Barbara A. Holmes 

Inspiration is in the air and settles on people without regard for their skin color, their social background, or their educational level. How many illiterate artists have emerged in [Brazil], in marginal communities, and were never noticed? Boasting is not the Spirit’s way.  
—Leonardo Boff 

The thing is to allow ourselves to become a vessel for a work of art to come through and allow that work to guide our hands. Once we do, we are assenting to a sacred adventure. We are saying yes to the transcendent and embodied presence of the holy.  
—Mirabai Starr 

Great art and great myth try to evoke an epiphany in us. They want to give us an inherent and original sense of the holy. They make us want to kneel and kiss the ground.
—Richard Rohr  

Week Sixteen Practice 

Dancing as Spiritual Practice  

In the latest issue of Oneing, CAC staff member and dancer Jenna Keiper writes of the healing wisdom of embodied movement: 

My ancestors, the wild siblings of old oak forests and the ruddy wanderers of windy peaks, knew communal rhythmic movement. All our ancestral Indigenous communities—as far as we can possibly know—have danced in community rituals to cope with the terror and awe of human life. [1] Anthropologists the world over have found the practice of communal dance to be fascinating in its predictability. It’s so very … human. Humans have, all along, had the answers today’s scientists “discover” written in our communal rhythms. Perhaps it would be wise to listen.  

Remember, electrons whisper as the music slows, remember. Together, our Bodies calm and soften. Many Bodies lead their Souls into positions on the floor. Curling and rocking, our breathing slows, together. Remember….  

God in the earth. God in the trees. God in myself. God, embodied. She speaks through every Body, and so the invitation is extended to every Body: Gray hair, unlined faces, stiff joints, supple muscles. Tall and short and bigger-bodied. Slow, quick, pregnant, dying. Alone in your room or on the floor in community. If you have a Body that moves in any way, then movement is your birthright. And if your Body can no longer move, then we will find a way to move in energy with you. Welcome, fellow travelers. Where words fade, the Body speaks.  

Mystery upon mystery.  

[1] See Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma (New York: Viking, 2014), 331–332.  

Jenna Keiper, “When Body Speaks: On Dance as Spiritual Practice,” Oneing 12, no. 1, Art and Spirituality (Spring 2024): 84–85, 86. Available in print and PDF download.

Image credit: Benjamin Yazza, Untitled (detail), New Mexico, 2023, photo, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image. What draws us when we gaze on an image? Here we see movement, flow, and artistry in natural wood. 

Navigate by Date

This year’s theme

A candle being lit

Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

The archives

Explore the Daily Meditations

Explore past meditations and annual themes by browsing the Daily Meditations archive. Explore by topic or use the search bar to find wisdom from specific teachers.

Join our email community

Sign-up to receive the Daily Meditations, featuring reflections on the wisdom and practices of the Christian contemplative tradition.

Hidden Fields

Find out about upcoming courses, registration dates, and new online courses.
Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.