Sunday, January 13, 2013

A terrifying mystery: “Spirituality and the Arts”

Our local meeting is currently exploring the theme of how the arts affect our spirituality, as human beings created in the image of the Creator. We are doing this through a series of seminars on Wednesday evenings entitled “Spirituality and the Arts.” I love the subtitle, “At Play in the Fields of the Lord,” a phrase describing wisdom in the Proverbs 8 creation story. For each of the ten sessions we have invited a local artist to share from his/her own art and experience.
Bryan Boyd represented the theater arts in our first session, specifically set design. Funny how I had never really considered set design as art, but I see it differently now. It was a fascinating presentation that I am still processing. Bryan, a member of our meeting, teaches theater at George Fox University and is the resident scenic and lighting designer for their productions.
Not brought up Quaker, Bryan was attracted to this faith community as a student at GFU (and a classmate of my kids!), recognizing that this was his spiritual fit, his home. He told us that “A sense of being unprogrammed is at the center of my faith and life,” the Quaker way of saying that we need to attend to the living Christ, present with and among us.
He then presented the process he goes through in set design, starting from receiving the script on through to evaluating the finished product. The focus was on his creative process, rather than the product. He listed and illustrated the steps with the following verbs: arrive, listen, collect, wonder, ferment, discern, move forward, and return. Lists always seem so straight-forward and orderly, but his process is actually very intuitive with the “steps” circling and spiraling, with almost more waiting than walking forward. Sort of like the Spirit in the creation story, hovering over the chaos, waiting for the word that lets the light come forth.
He mentioned the tensions in this process: the tensions between personal creativity and the necessary collaboration of the community that will produce the play, tensions between intuition and reason, tensions between the need for time to let the process work and the pressure of deadlines. Being an artist is not comfortable. Bryan once used the phrase, “a terrifying mystery.” Yes. He also mentioned that all this is so integrated with who he is (and is becoming) that he can hardly analyze what part is creativity and what part is spirituality. I agree.
I encourage you to check out Bryan’s work at
I continue to reflect and find parallels with my experience as a poet, which, by the way, I get to present this week in the seminar.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for making these wonderful connections. I really want to echo your recommendation to visit Bryan Boyd's Web site.