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Sacred Imagination
April 2001 Column

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Dana's Current Column

by Dana Reynolds

Each month, Dana Reynolds shares her life-transforming thoughts, ideas, and sacred imagination based around our
"theme of the month."  Dana is a visionary Spiritual Midwife, who devotes herself to helping women birth their creative gifts into the world.

Nourishing the Souls of the Children

This month I am called to address an issue that is tearing a hole in the soul of our country. That is, the plague affecting an increasing number of young people. . .a plague that causes young individuals to shoot their classmates, teachers, and often themselves?

The tragedy at Columbine High School, two years ago this month, seems to be spreading like an insidious virus. The recent increase in school shootings by students should have all of us realizing that what occurred in Littleton, Colorado was not an isolated event.

This column isn’t intended to be a sociological study regarding teen violence. Rather, it is written in the hope of inviting you to make a difference in a child’s life by nourishing his/her spirit and soul. Regardless of whether one has a child or not, he/she can make a difference in a child’s life.

It is my belief that the souls of our children are in desperate need of protection and sustenance. There are countless ways a child’s mind and soul are threatened each day. We are all aware of the pervasive violence, sex, and darkness in the media, movies, and video games that permeate our culture. When children’s intake of these materials is unsupervised it can be likened to being exposed to a dangerous disease.

The removal of art and music programs in our schools is another germ carrier of the plague of malaise and malcontent that is infiltrating our society. The sacred imaginations of our children must be nourished and fed with healthy, positive, inspirational imagery and input.

Art making, writing, and music are natural creative outlets for processing life experiences and the events of a child’s daily happenings. Self-expression through art and music are ways the soul can speak its truth, find voice, and nurture the self and others. The same way that tears, yawning, and laughter, are vehicles to the physical body’s current state of being; art and music making and writing are channels of expression for the soul.

When the spirit and soul are denied ways to express what is longing to be acknowledged, either positive or negative, a blockage to the flow of the life force is created. Other factors such as environment, genetic make-up, and traumatic life events play a part in the most severe actions like the ones in the recent high school shooting tragedies. Over time if the soul is repeatedly thwarted in its desire to share its story and gifts, the river of creativity is dammed and stagnation occurs. As the years pass this stagnation putrefies and the person’s angst and creative constipation erupts in often dangerous and inappropriate ways. Perhaps tattoos and body piercing are in fact a desperate attempt to creatively express the pain, rage, and restlessness so many young people are currently feeling.

Naturally there are varying degrees of behavior in the population of children and teens today. Hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder in our young people seem to be on the rise. Could these challenges also be related in part from over stimulation and the lack of creative ways for processing? It is not the intention of this column to address all of these issues, but rather to invite you to contemplate how we as individuals might supplement healthy creative inspiration in the children in our families and communities.

Several years ago I had the privilege of teaching children ages eight through ten as part of a summer creativity program. Each day we climbed on a magic carpet (a large threadbare rug in the classroom) and listened to music from different ethnic backgrounds. With their eyes closed, I led a guided journey to an African jungle, a deserted island, the moon, or a prehistoric cave. After the visualization the children went immediately to their journals to write about and draw what they had seen. Next each child, using a variety of art materials, created something he/she had found while visiting the imaginary place.

Time and time again I was in awe of this process and the children’s creations. Their imaginations, their creative souls, delivered what can only be called "inspired" poems, stories, objects, paintings, and drawings. I will always remember the joy they experienced during the creative process and the enthusiasm they expressed as they shared their creations with their classmates during show and tell. Self-esteems blossomed, new ideas were born, and their imaginations and souls were fed and nurtured by the experience.

I believe we must, as adults, take responsibility for inspiring and fostering the sacred creative imaginations of our children. By "our children" I mean our nation’s children.

We all have children in our lives. Whether these are our own children, nieces or nephews, a friend or co-worker’s child, or perhaps a grand-child that lives miles away, each of us knows at least one child whose life we can touch. Here are a few suggestions for ways to touch a child’s life with a spark for the sacred imagination.

    1. Read to a child or children. Volunteer to be a storyteller at a local bookstore or library or choose a favorite book from your childhood and share it with a young person you know.
    2. Create a traveling journal to send back and forth between a long distance child in your life and yourself. Decorate a blank sketchbook. Create the first entry with color, glitter, stickers, and playful inspiration for a child. Invite the child to create the next entry and then to return it to you and so on. Include some glitter crayons, stickers, or rubber-stamps to ignite the sacred imagination.
    3. Organize an art-making project for the children in your community. Perhaps there is a parking lot wall that could become a mural, or a plot of soil that could be planted to become a butterfly garden, or a nursing home that needs brightening with colorful paper angels crafted by children.
    4. Create a compilation tape or CD of music for a child. Include your favorite classical pieces and a letter describing what you see when you close your eyes and listen to the compositions. Invite the young person to write back and tell you what he/she sees when listening to your gift.
    5. Create a tape of stories (your own or read from books). Create a tape of questions to inspire a child to write a poem or story of his/her own.

As you offer inspiration through these suggestions or in other ways, be conscious of allowing the child creative license, individuality, and self-expression. Be ready to be inspired yourself by the richness of the child’s creativity and ingenuity.

There is a miraculous side-effect to nourishing a child’s soul and imagination. . . your creativity will also be sparked. Can you imagine our world if each child’s gift of creativity was tended like a beautiful garden, if each adult assumed the responsibility to nurture, weed, and fertilize the sacred imagination of at least one child? Consider the music, paintings, new inventions, poetry and writing that could be born throughout the life of one whose creativity was fervently nurtured and supported.

The month of April is the harbinger for new life and the return of light to our hemisphere. I invite you this month to breathe inspiration into a child’s imaginative soul then be prepared to be dazzled by the brilliance you ignite.

You are invited to submit your story and accompanying photos to be considered as a feature for the Sacred Imagination column. E-mail me at dana@sacredimagination.com for details.

Copyright© 2001 Dana Reynolds. 


Read Dana's Past "Sacred Imagination" Columns:

March 2001 "Opening the Senses to Beauty"

February 2001 "The Eyes of Love"

January 2001 "Patterns of Authenticity"

December 2000 "Finding Peace in the Fields of Time"

November 2000 "Cultivating Gratitude: Heart-Hugs and Prayer Leaves"

October 2000 "Journey to the Center - The Sacred Mystery of the Labyrinth"

September 2000 "The Heart and Craft of Healing"

August 2000 "Transforming Life’s Challenges into Beauty and Story"

July 2000 "Sacred Spaces Invite the Muses of the Soul"

Read Dana's Soulful Living Feature Articles:

Visual Prayers

Intuition and the Sacred Imagination: The Dance of Co-creation


For ten years, Dana Reynolds has been facilitating women’s spiritual presentations and retreats nationwide. Her work as a Spiritual Midwife, one who assists women as they birth their creative gifts into the world, is the foundation of all her endeavors. Her background as a visual artist and writer enriches her Spiritual Midwifery: Birthing the Feminine Soul workshops.

As the creator of an art making process known as visual prayer, Dana teaches women how to combine ritual with sacred intention to create altars, collages, spirit dolls, and other touchstones. The creation of sacred spaces is also paramount to the Spiritual Midwifery experience. Her web-site http://www.sacredimagination.com offers samplings of her visual prayer collages, poetry, and a workshop catalogue.

Dana is the author of the whimsical and colorfully illustrated book, Be An Angel, a co-creation with illustrator and graphic designer, Karen Blessen, (Simon & Schuster). Her essay, Visual Prayers is included in the anthology, Our Turn, Our Time: Women Coming of Age, edited by Cynthia Black, (Beyond Words Publishing).

A trained labyrinth facilitator, Dana incorporates the labyrinth and other spiritual wisdom into her retreats and workshops. She recently traveled to Chartres and Vezelay Cathedrals in France to gather information pertaining to ancient sacred mystical traditions. She currently lectures on such topics as spiritual midwifery, sacred journal keeping, feminine spiritual wisdom, and the early Christian women saints and mystics.

Dana’s life follows the spiral path from rim to center and back again. She looks for the sacred in forgotten places and openly embraces the great Mystery of life. Guiding women to the discovery of their creative inner gifts is the passion that fuels her soul.


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