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Women, the world and the Church need your creativity

Creating a culture of hope can start with the smallest of seeds: creativity.

This was the message “Hello Beauty” — a retreat aimed to inspire women to encounter God through beauty in the act of the creative process —¬ planted in attendees.

“[My hope is that it] opens their eyes to the potential transformative power of beauty, even in small ways,” said Tara Wright, co-founder of Scatter and Sow, the platform hosting the retreat. “No matter how you’re practicing the creative process, it can help you commune with God. If we cultivate beauty…and help others see it, the implications are creating a culture of hope.”

“Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence,” wrote St. John Paull II in his “Letter to Artists.” “It is an invitation to savor life and dream of the future.”

Beauty, then, can inspire hope and call man to his greatest desire: Christ.

The themes of beauty and the call to be creative in John Paul’s Letter were the main inspiration of the retreat. And while he writes that all of man is called to be creative, women have a role in beauty in a particularly unique way, according to Wright and fellow co-founder Erin Day.

The natural intuition and receptivity of a woman’s soul is a key component of beauty. Artists, who especially possess an intuition for the beautiful, are more open to receive an experience of beauty. So, while not all women are artists, women have a special relationship to beauty in a similar way.

Women paint with watercolors during the Hello Beauty retreat May 5-7. The retreat was inspired by Saint John Paul II’s “Letter to Artists” and sought to bring the participants into deeper communion with God through creativity. (Photo by Therese Aaker | Denver Catholic)

“Every genuine artistic intuition goes beyond what the senses perceive and, reaching beneath reality’s surface, strives to interpret its hidden mystery,” John Paul wrote.

“I think the main thing of the retreat is being receptive, which is a trait of the feminine genius,” Day said. “Beauty allows us to really receive Christ into the depth of our hearts. That way they can learn to be receptive at the retreat and in their daily lives.”

One of the key ways to experience beauty is through the creative process, Wright and Day said. Because God himself was creator, the act of creativity is a special way to be close to him.

“It gives our creativity purpose. It’s not just creativity to be creative, it’s that it’s a communion with God,” Wright said, pointing out this theme from the Letter. “It will be a starting point for women to draw closer to Christ. As creative people, it has the potential to draw the world [toward God].”

But this isn’t just a calling for women who see themselves as artists — anyone can be creative and enter into this communion with God through creativity, said Day.

John Paul wrote, “Not all are called to be artists in the specific sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make it a work of art, a masterpiece.”

“[St. John Paul II] was inviting anybody, not just artists, to be creative…he highlights this ‘beauty that saves.’ We get this glimpse of what we’re trying to get to [which is God], but we do this as a tangible way on this earth,” Day said.

The retreat’s workshops, which included flower design, brush lettering, stained glass and rosary making, were all aimed to provide a place for women to enter into that encounter and rest in beauty. While the activities themselves might not be classified as “art,” they are creative — solidifying the point of John Paul that while not all are artists, anyone can create.

Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savor life and dream of the future.”

“As we were trying to bring authentic beauty to the workshops, we wanted women who have a personal testimony of how women live this out,” Day said. “We wanted a mix, so it’s not, ‘You always have to make religious art to be a Catholic artist,’ and also seeing those things in light of and in context of the retreat.”

“As women, the desire to craft and create isn’t just a shallow waste of time,” Day added.

Wright was one of the speakers for the retreat, and in her talk, “Resting in Beauty,” she emphasized that we can find rest in God as we create, especially through moments where we meet resistance: the point of creating where the craftsman or artist realizes, “This was not what I was hoping for,” and wants to give up. It’s another point in the creative process where we can encounter God.

“When you meet that resistance point, that’s where you meet God. You meet yourself and become aware of your flaws…and if I keep going, I’m able to see how God fills that smallness,” Wright said.

God “filling that smallness” in the creative process is still a part of encountering beauty — it is still the transcendent experience of, as John Paul says in his Letter, “a momentary glimpse of the abyss of light which has its original wellspring in God.”

For more information on Scatter and Sow’s events, visit scatterandsow.squarespace.com.

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