ATB Bistro 333

A place where visions and dreams meet, as inspired by the creative spirit within.
A place where the quest for beautiful possibilities in life may be explored, pondered and shared.
Welcome to the All Things Beautiful round table at Bistro 333.
Draw up a chair, relax awhile.
Enjoy the friendship and a cup of hospitality.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Writer Within: A Reflection on 'The Creative Life' of Julia Cameron

By Susan Parcheta
Julia Cameron, bestselling author of ‘The Artist’s Way’ and ‘Vein of Gold,’ reveals her authentic writer self in her newest work: The Creative Life – True Tales of Inspiration.

The cover slogan, ‘Finding Your True North,’ seems misleading at first glance. As a writer, and as one who cares deeply about one’s creative life – and, as one who loves to write about the creative spirit in others – that’s what drew me into the story. Finding your true north; what writer, or any person, doesn’t wish to discover that? Finding your yellow brick road and following it, staying true to it, following your North Star.

While I was looking for new perspectives on Creative Spirit, what I found was affirmation of what I’ve known, intuitively, all along. Writing, or any other act of creativity, is all about relationships. As I read, I kept thinking how the book is set up as a running diary of a year or so in the life of a famous writer – a writer who inhabits New York’s Upper West Side, and who enjoys the company of many collaborative friends. 

 Being a famous writer is something I’d aspired to about as far back as Julia Cameron. I was so convinced about it, that after college, and after three years of teaching (and discovering that wasn’t where my soul wanted to be), I signed up for that illustrious correspondence school by the same name.

I’m not sure the school exists anymore. I still have the books; I’m tempted to get them out again, to see how far I’ve come and maybe to project myself into polishing my skills. You see, a local journalism job crept into my life. The hours of study, hoping to become that famous writer of books and magazine articles, were set aside for the local freelance/part-time/steady newspaper writing. I never completed the course. I accepted my lot as a comfortably well-known writer in my immediate geographic realm.

Why would Cameron’s book remind me of all this? Party, I guess, it’s because I see myself in this book. Whereas, with Cameron, ‘The Creative Life’ tells of a segment of her life where she struggles to find her voice again – another book. I’m thinking, “Where are my books? Why aren’t they written?”

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spirit of St. Francis of Assisi echoes down eight centuries to 2010

 Glory of the Feast of Saint Francis on Oct. 4 reminds me, in 2010, of the joy and splendor of all creation. May the world resonate with the peaceful simplicity of a heart message, echoing down eight centuries from Assisi...All Things Beautiful...ATB

The Feast of St. Francis is observed on Oct. 4, not only by those of Catholic faith, but catholic in the universal sense of people of all faiths.  Nearly 800 years since his death on Oct. 3 in 1226, the world resonates with the message of this gentle giant, St. Francis of Assisi, forerunner of the Franciscans.  

Most of us are acutely aware in our times of the power of positive, possibility thinking. An inspirational quote by motivational speaker Andrew Horton set me thinking about this in relationship to what I’ve been learning about Francis of Assisi.

  “You have the ability to choose your attitude and level of happiness,” says Horton. “You can either allow things to get you down or you can choose to view any challenges as a vehicle that is moving you closer to hidden opportunities. When something difficult happens in your life, choose to see it as something that is merely polishing you up, to make your life more beautiful.

He could have been speaking of St. Francis, who seemed to embody those qualities. St. Francis tuned into all things beautiful…from loving all animals (it was St. Francis who created the first live nativity) to the poor and downtrodden of humanity… the lepers of his time.  He saw challenges as opportunities to do good in the world. He triumphed over life tragedies, including separation and renouncement of family, disease, imprisonment.

 He loved people of all cultures. During the crusades, he went on a peacemaking pilgrimage to be received in Egypt by the sultan Melek-el-Kamel; it was a visit to the Muslim world which would eventually find the Franciscans being recognized as custodians of the Holy Land on behalf of Christianity. 

St. Francis inspired the beautiful Clare of Assisi who ran away from home to follow Francis, rather than marrying a wealthy young man. She established the order known as the “Poor Ladies” that later became known as the Order of St. Clare and worked alongside Francis, offering encouragement, as well as caring for him in illness.

St. Francis revered all of creation, something that we on this planet are at last grasping in our hearts. In his book All Saints,   Robert Ellsberg writes that, for Francis, “All things, whether living or inanimate, reflected their creator’s love and were thus due reverence and wonder. In this spirit he composed his famous ‘Canticles of Creation,’ singing the praises of Brother Sun, Sister Moon, and even Sister Death. Altogether his life and his relationship with the world – including animals, the elements, the poor and sick as well as princes and prelates, women as well as men, represented the breakthrough of a new model of human and cosmic community.” 

Cosmic community 2010: At this delicate juncture in our history, the message of St. Francis seems all the more powerful and urgent…  "Praised be you, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially Brother Sun, who is the day through whom you give us light."

This excerpt from The Canticle of Brother Sun, written by St. Francis of Assisi in 1225, invokes all of creation to praise the Creator.  Francis' teachings about creation as a manifestation of God have influenced the Catholic Church’s theology regarding creation; and in 1980 Pope John Paul II declared St. Francis the patron saint of ecology.  

St. Francis found strength and healing in the beauty of nature. He was known for his long, contemplative soujourns in quiet, sacred places in his beautiful Italy, and his love for all creatures.  Legends have sprung around this aspect of St. Francis. One tells the story of St. Francis preaching to the birds in the trees while on his travels. Another of quieting a wolf that was terrorizing a village.
Thinking of St. Francis, I think of beautiful healing gardens, such as those he loved in the mountains and monasteries of his homeland. While we may not have monasteries, we each can be modern-day mystics like St. Francis…savoring the seasons and living in constant awareness of the grandeur of nature and the universe. 

Louise Hay, author of numerous books on spirituality and healing, founder of Hay House International, invites us to celebrate the beauty of autumn. I can picture Saint Francis expressing such affirmations as these she shares: 

 “Beauty is everywhere. Natural beauty shines forth from every little flower, from the patterns of reflected light on the surface of water, from the quiet strength of old trees. Nature thrills me; it renews and refreshes me. I find relaxation, enjoyment, and healing in the simplest things in life. As I look with love at nature, I find it easy to look with love at myself. I am part of nature; thus, I am beautiful in my own unique way. Wherever I look, I see beauty. Today I resonate with all the beauty in life.

When we see all things as beautiful, I believe, the perennial favorite Prayer of Saint Francis may then truly be spoken from a compassionate heart: 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light: where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. – Amen 

Links for St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis: Why He's the Patron Saint of Ecology