I'm in kind of a wierd "postpartum" mode, having spent the last month wrestling into shape an article that is a combination of personal memoir and reflection on the poet and artist David Jones, who was for so many years the focus of my labors, and is coming into my life again. I'm going to be part of a conference at Cathedral College in February on "Faith, Art and Poetry in a Post-Christian Culture" -- publicity going up soon, but it will be February 27-March 1 and the middle of the conference will focus on Jones's work and what he has to say about art as a sacramental activity, and about the challenges that face us as artists who work in a tradition that has shaped us profoundly but whose language is increasingly inaccessible to the world.
That wrestling-into-shape process touches something deep: It can seem like a cliche but giving shape to a creative piece - a poem or an essay is an intense kind of prayer that brings together the discipline of craftsmanship and a kind of passionate focus on this one thing, a desire for it to "come right," and days of bleakness when it just won't. And now that it's sent out, anxiety returns about whether what "came right" for me in the creative process will speak to anyone else. But the experience itself is an experience of prayer - while I was involved in the process, it was something I couldn't leave - (any more than a woman giving birth can really comply with the coaches who say "don't push!"). And something has come out of it, and shaped me in the process of its emergence.
I like to think that in giving myself to that creative process in writing, I am also opening myself to something like the creative Passion of the divine logos, "himself not made, maker of sequence and permutation in all things made" as Jones puts it. I am spent now, by that encounter -- curious to see what will come out of it, but knowing it will be awhile before I can see it. Not exactly exhausted, not burnt out, but fully "spent." It's frustrating because it means I can't really get started on something else. But that's also a part of the experience: When God was spent, after all the labor of Creation, he rested. That's what I need to do now.
- Kathleen Henderson Staudt
- I work as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions in the DC area. My teaching focuses in various ways on writing, poetry, Spirituality and Christian vocation and ministry - especially from the point of view of the laity. I also offer classes and retreats encouraging people to explore their inner lives, engage their creativity and reflect on their beliefs about God, vocation, and how we can discern and pursue new ways to transform our broken world. I enjoy speaking of faith in the secular academy as well as reminding those preparing for ministry in the Church that our primary purpose is to love and serve the world beyond the church's doors. I love helping people to grow in faith and to find their own voices, and I also love encouraging them to use their minds. I see no contradiction between these impulses, believing as I do that faith, reason and creativity work together.