Yesterday I found myself reading Michael Frome's new book, "Rediscovering National Parks in the Spirit of John Muir" in a lovely coffee shop in downtown Estes Park. In a chapter entitled "Artists and Photographers Direct Us to a Sense of Place and of Spirit," the author mentions a landscape artist named Rockwell Kent. He says:
"Kent's 'adventure of spirit' became the basis of his book on wilderness. It is a book about art and life, about alienation and integration, about the inner life, the spiritual life, the simple life, and about growing old gracefully, without losing one's childhood ideals. In 'Wilderness,' Kent confronts the emptiness and loneliness of the abyss and fills it with the richness and wealth of his soul."
This passage really struck me, and I have been pondering it ever since. Oftentimes we are tempted to think that spiritual meaning is something we will discover ready-made, as though we are meant to remain completely passive to its vibrancy and truth. However, this passage reinvigorated me to remember that it is our calling as human beings to take the abyss of seeming emptiness, alienation and meaninglessness and to fill it with the richness of our own imagination.
This is not something we do alone, as though pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. No - our task is at root DIVINE! For it is as though the very root of our souls resonates with GOD'S silent question to us:
"Where ARE you?"
We of course respond to this cosmic question when we echo back - in longing and desire - with our own question of God: "Where are YOU?" But more than that, we are meant (to speak mythically for a moment) to ADD our own "words" and "voice" to that echo in a manner that completely stuns and delights our Source! Thus, THE DIVINE WANTS AND NEEDS US to fill the empty abyss implied in this cosmic question with "the richness and wealth of our own soul." What an amazing calling we have! For each of us is, at root, an "artist of the spirit," employing all of the imagination, myth, metaphor, poetry, music and art that is so infinitely at our disposal.
In the last analysis, we are meant to be co-creators of meaning, not for our own sakes alone, but for GOD'S!
Photos: Canyonlands National Park, UT, November 28-30, 2015
Please visit: http://www.resourcesforspiritualgrowth.com/
Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.