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Sacred Imagination
January 2001 Column & Gallery

Click Here to See
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.

"Patterns of Authenticity"

My mother makes quilts. I have observed her carefully as she places a template on fabric to sketch a pattern for her stitches. The design created by the template is merely a guide, an inspiration for her particular push and pull of the needle. Even though she uses a template for the quilting, it is her choice of fabrics and colors that makes each quilt an expression of her unique brand of creativity.

Templates, in the form of role models, are also helpful when one makes the conscious awareness to live authentically and purposefully. Emulating the behavior and approach to life exemplified to you by a person or persons you admire provides a map or a guide, as you create and shape your authentic life.

Over the centuries artists have copied the famous works and creations of the great master painters and sculptors. This is how new techniques and methods have come into being. Through the process of studying and exploring the brushstrokes of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, or Renoir, artists discover their authentic way of applying paint to the canvas.

Who would you choose for your role model templates? Who do you admire? Consider the people you know friends, family members, and colleagues at work or school. Who are the people you are attracted to? Who inspires you to be the best you can be? What characteristics or attributes do these individuals exude that calls you to examine your own life and ways of being in the world?

History offers an unlimited cast of characters as templates for your own life. Who are the historical figures who seem to "speak" to your soul?

On my desk I have an icon of Saint Hildegard of Bingen. She was a twelfth century mystic, visionary, and healer whose spiritual strength and dedication inspires me. I have studied her writings and her life and when I find myself creatively blocked I turn to her icon and ask myself, "…how would Hildegard approach this problem?" I contemplate her creative process, her prayer life, and her courage to express her visions. She is one of my templates, a model for how to draw from the well of creativity fearlessly to live more authentically.

Another model I refer to over and over again is The Blessed Virgin Mary. Now this may seem a stretch. How does one presume to follow in Mary’s footsteps? Obviously this would be considered blasphemy in some circles. Mary reminds me to say, "Yes!", to God’s callings. She leads me to trust the Higher plan and to be true to my life’s purpose. It’s not that I try to be Mary, what a ludicrous thought, it’s rather that she is a teacher for me, an example of how I might approach living more authentically.

This month as you explore your life’s purpose to live authentically and purposefully, I invite you on a journey through your sacred imagination in search of templates (role models and mentors) to assist the birthing of your authentic self. Here are a few key questions to ask as you begin this quest. You might like to take some time to explore these in your journal.

If you were choosing three teachers to design a special curriculum for your body, mind, and spirit who would you choose? These may be anyone living or deceased from history or your own life.

When you think of your childhood name two people who impacted your life in a memorable and positive way. What characteristics did these individuals have in common? How did they differ?

Who are the artists, musicians, writers, or specialists in your field of work or interest that you admire? What is the common thread regarding your appreciation of their gifts?

In your journal list these various persons and the traits that you would like to emulate. You may want to create a collage representing either figuratively or symbolically your role model template.

Living authentically with purpose is an evolutionary process. The authentic life is a living breathing entity that like all organic things grows and changes with time.

Being conscious of other’s qualities and characteristics that are life enhancing, creatively nurturing, and spiritually centered will enlarge your awareness of the areas within yourself that you want to enrich and nourish. The authentic life is multi-faceted. Living with a sense of purpose requires the engagement of body, mind, and soul. Bringing this holistic awareness fully into each day will over time enliven your palette for painting your life in the outer world, the way you visualize it in your inner world. Here are a few suggestions for ways to express and contain whatever inspires or excites your authentic and purpose-full life.

As you begin the New Year you may want to keep an inspiration bulletin board as kind of sacred container for those things that influence and stimulate your authentic life. Clip images from magazines that are symbols for the qualities, actions, and outcomes you are working towards as you engage with your authentic self. Once a week create a collage as a meditation to focus on one or more characteristic or event you are cultivating in your life. Keep your inspiration bulletin board where you will frequently see it throughout the day. Allow it to change and grow during the week. Refer to it as you embrace the parts of yourself that are finding voice and form.

bulletin board jc.jpg (630658 bytes)

Type up words, phrases, and affirmations that express the values, personality characteristics, and creative endeavors you are engaging with as you awaken to your authenticity. You may also clip words and phrases from magazines. Keep these in a clear glass jar on your desk. Once a day reach in and choose one at random. Read it out loud to yourself and copy it ten times in your journal as a way of integrating new ideas and concepts into your psyche and spirit.

Most of all engage all your senses to enlarge your inner and outer worlds. Look at art and nature for inspiration. Listen to music and recordings of poetry and literature or foreign languages to stimulate your creativity. Cook new foods, explore other cultures, rent a foreign film or documentary, to stretch beyond your everyday boundaries.

Living the authentic life with a sense of purpose is an ongoing journey, a pilgrimage to the center of your own soul. Use your sacred imagination to bring color and spontaneity to the greatest adventure you can have…..the adventure of meeting your "whole" self for the first time.

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 Soulful Living Feature Articles:

Visual Prayers

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

Read Dana's Past "Sacred Imagination" Columns:

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"


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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