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Sacred Imagination
November 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.

Explore, Express, Imagine

The world of creativity is a natural place for small children to inhabit. The next time you are in a park observe the way the toddler explores the playground. Notice the way she engages all her senses as she spies a bright red leaf blowing across the grass, chasing it laughing with delight. Soon she catches it, touching it eagerly while turning it over in her small chubby hands to examine its texture and appearance. She sniffs its curly edge and then gently licks it to see what it might taste like, before letting it go to watch it catch the autumn breeze signaling the game to begin again.

The toddler’s sensual exploration of the world is the doorway to creativity. Children can help us to remember what it felt like to be bold and unafraid to explore the unknown. The innocence of the child, the purity of heart, and the uncontaminated sense of wonder of the child’s imagination are key ingredients to creativity. Perhaps a way for us, as adults, to recapture our innate creative spirits is to observe children at play.

Several years ago I taught a series of Saturday morning experiential art/craft classes, Explore. . . Express. . .Imagine, for parents and their children at a local art gallery. The concept was to bring children and parents together, propose a creative challenge to explore, provide a variety of materials to experiment with, and make a place for their imaginations to co-create together. The metamorphosis that occurred for the parents from the first class to the last was astounding.

In the beginning the adults were timid and reserved about using the materials and "diving into" the process. The children, aged five to seven, were eager and uninhibited as they glued sticks together to build a time machine, or pasted strips of newspaper to a balloon to make a papier maché mask. Over time the children seemed to reactivate a spark within the parents’ creative souls. Soon they were cutting, pasting, painting together to create a symphony of color and form. Through the children’s total trust and abandon to the process, the parents were led to a place of remembering the joy of play and uninhibited self-expression. The result was an extravaganza of creations including maps to imaginary places, and mythical beasts made of paper and dryer lint.

Children are wonderful guides to remembering. To protect and nourish our children’s creative spirits we must remember ourselves what it felt like to squish fingers into wet dirt to make mud pies. We must reclaim the excitement of letting go of a red balloon only to watch it disappear in the bright blue sky.

Just as children can help us to remember our playful creative selves. . . we can help to foster creativity in children. Here are a few suggestions for encouraging the young people in your life to explore, express, and imagine their world.

Explore: Read to a child. Go to the library and bookstores together. Books are a gateway to the exploration of a myriad of topics. Engage the child’s interest through picture books, vivid imagery, and stories. Make up stories together while driving in the car. Go to museums, art galleries, musical concerts, places that will feed a child’s desire to create. Point out color, sound, shape, and form. Engaging in these activities will help to keep the door open to the child’s senses of wonder and observation.

Express: Gather simple art materials; crayons, tempra paints, paper, glue, magazines for tearing up, clay, sticks and string. Create a safe place for a child to make a mess, to freely express what you have explored together. Encourage uninhibited expression with the materials. Transform a hallway in your home into a gallery for the child’s artwork. Purchase several inexpensive plastic box frames to display the child’s creations. Honor his/her outpouring of creativity with a special place of display.

Imagine: Create together. Color outside the lines. Encourage the drawings of purple trees and green fire engines. Turn things inside out and upside down. Remember the way the toddler examines the red leaf? Look at things from a new perspective. Nourish the imagination through storytelling, tent building, and noise making.

The creative world of the child is an endangered place these days. It’s easy to pop the video into the VCR to "entertain" a fidgeting youngster. Soon the thumb goes into the mouth and the young mind goes on automatic pilot as the programmed images play out before the mesmerized child.

Videos, TV, computer games, all these things have their place but are often used as pacifiers for the child who is restless for creative expression.

The next time you experience a youngster acting bored, turn on some classical music and get out the crayons and paper. Invite the child to draw or color what is heard and seen inside the music. You will be amazed, and you might also remember how it feels to step through the doorway into the world of imagination.

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:

October 2001 - "Seeking Sacred Alchemy"

September 2001 - "Invoking Your Muse"

August 2001 - "The Blessings of Daily Bread"

July 2001 - "Entertaining the Dream Visitor"

May 2001 - "Embracing the Whole: Choices for Conscious Living"

April 2001 "Nourishing the Souls of the Children"

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.

Be An Angel

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).

Our Turn Our Time

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.


Visit Dana at:



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