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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
invited to submit your story and accompanying
photos to be considered as a feature for the Sacred
Imagination column. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright© 2001 Dana
Dana's Soulful Living Feature Articles:
and the Sacred Imagination: The Dance of Co-creation
Dana's Past "Sacred Imagination" Columns:
2000 "Finding Peace in the Fields of Time"
2000 "Cultivating Gratitude: Heart-Hugs and Prayer
2000 "Journey to the Center - The Sacred Mystery of
2000 "The Heart and Craft of Healing"
2000 "Transforming Life’s Challenges into Beauty and Story"
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
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
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.