Archive for ‘May, 2014’

When Beauty Serves

I’m thrilled and humbled that my art served as the visual background to complement amazing spiritual teachers last weekend, like Buddhist Roshi Joan Halifax pictured here.  After a year of hard work in the making, mandala imagery created a warm, inspiring atmosphere for the Spiritual Directors International conference held in Santa Fe, NM.  It all came together!!  And it was SO BEAUTIFUL.  Check out Conference Event Photos to see the beauty in action.

Just as I hoped, the colors and themes enriched the teachings and the community exploring the essence and practice of spiritual companionship.  What a dream come true for me– to be given a chance to offer my best service to this group of my peers and leaders that inspire us.  Wow.

In one of my favorite moments, a young spiritual director, Sarah Cledwyn, stood at the podium in front of my Center of Becoming banner and read a glorious poem about seeds, stars, and mystery.  I wiped away tears of gratitude as I heard my intentions echoed in her words, when neither of us knew the other would share such kindred artistry.  Spirit was weaving all this goodness ahead of time!

Fifty-five local New Mexican spiritual directors and community members also helped create 80 centerpiece mandalas on the theme “Emerging Wisdom” for the conference ballroom tables.  I could hardly believe how wonderful it was to see this collaborative dream come true!  Everyone was amazed and moved by the beauty and wisdom represented by these art works filling the entire room.  See the Mandala Art Gallery for your own experience.

Finally, read the article written about the Emerging Wisdom Mandala Project also created for this conference, in “Connections,” monthly Spiritual Directors International newsletter.  It’s terrific to know the workshops and all the conference artistic environment served so many hearts, hands, and minds!

Special thanks to all those who collaborated in this huge endeavor, especially: Sue Joiner, Holly Bahn, Patricia Campbell Carlson, Marianne Lewis, Bonnie Rich, Kay Veal, Jan Gough, the 55 mandala artists, and our host workshop communities: Norbertine Community Abbey (Albuquerque), St Paul Lutheran Church (Albuquerque), St Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church (Albuquerque), and First Presbyterian Church (Santa Fe).

And now for another recovery nap…  🙂



The Creative Spirit Leads

Great article about my Emerging Wisdom Mandala Project!

Letting the Creative Spirit Lead

–by Katherine Hampton,  in “Connections,” Spiritual Directors International newsletter, May 2014, Volume 23.1

“I invite you to be curious in your mind and heart about what Wisdom means to you.  How do you experience your own wisdom, or what wisdom do you turn to in your daily life?  Notice what wise words, stories, memories, or ideas show up.  Try paying attention to what wisdom you need in your life right now, or what you’re asking for.  What parts of our world need wisdom, and what would you offer to them?  See whether any new understandings or insights come your way….”

These were the instructions given to participants in preparation for a creative workshop led by Melanie Weidner, an artist and Spiritual Director in Albuquerque, NM.   Melanie led a series of workshops to bring folks together in community and creativity around the question, “What does Wisdom look like?”  Participants had the opportunity to listen for whatever wisdom presented itself to them, and then work with various art supplies and fourteen inch wooden circles to create mandalas expressing what they encountered.

In turn, these encounters with wisdom were shared with a larger community. Over the course of four separate workshops, nearly 60 participants created over 80 mandalas and the finished pieces graced the tables of the Emerging Wisdom conference.  (The pieces were later returned to the original artists.)

With the wide variety of art supplies provided, no two mandalas look the same. Using a collage technique, each artist added layers to the wooden circle. While they are all unique in texture, style, materials, and color— from string, tissue and magazine images to glitter glue, paint and colored paper – all are perfect. Everyone’s art went in different directions, and all of the expressions are beautiful.  It should be noted very few of these participants would have considered themselves artists before these events.  One participant revealed, “It means a lot since I did not think I was capable of creating such a meaningful piece.”

The process of the workshop was a lot like spiritual direction – the focus of the art was listening to the Spirit, not forcing something to happen. Participants came in with newspaper clippings, images, and perhaps some notion of what they planned to create. But after listening quietly and letting images and impulses arise in the community of others, most of the artwork did not match the original concept. Rather, wisdom and a fresh vision had emerged.

Collage itself is also a lot like spiritual direction; you start with what you have, and put it out there. One beautiful piece then leads to another in a collage of life. There are messy layers and smooth layers, but the composite of all the pieces is beautifully imperfect.   At some point, we arrive at a place that feels, at least for the moment, whole and complete.  As one participant said,”So often we go out searching for wisdom then come full circle and find what we need was here all along.”

Melanie is thankful for the beautiful artists who came out to share their gifts with the SDI community. Most of them were unable to attend the conference, yet they were there in spirit.  Their art – and wisdom – contributed greatly to the Emerging Wisdom conference.

Spiritual Directors International thanks Melanie Weidner for creating meaningful workshops that brought together people from all over New Mexico to contribute their gifts to Emerging Wisdom.


See these beautiful mandala images on Melanie’s Mandala ART GALLERY  and visit the WORKSHOP Photos for pictures of how it happened.


Read this article in context — Spiritual Directors International “Connections” newsletter, May 2014, Volume 23.1 (It’s on the last three pages.)  Thanks also to Holly Bahn for editorial assistance.



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