Materials needed: computer or tablet; pen or pencil and paper; crayons, colored pencils, or colored chalk; bible
Before beginning this exercise, take a few moments to be still using one or more of the techniques from previous exercises, and sense the presence of God within you. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you through this activity and reveal what he wants you to know.
A time to mourn and a time to dance
Fold the paper in half first vertically, and then in half horizontally. Draw a circle such that both folds run through the center of the circle. Choose a verse from Ecclesiastes 3:1–8, such as “a time to mourn and a time to dance;” on the left side of the circle on the horizontal fold, write the first part of the verse (i.e. “a time to mourn”) and on the opposite side, write the other half of the verse (“a time to dance”).
Choose colors from your pencils, crayons, or chalk that represent how you feel about the first half of the verse, and then choose colors to express how you feel about the second half.
Expressing your feelings in color
Begin coloring in the circle, starting from the upper left hand side at the fold—the idea is that the colors will eventually change from the colors associated with mourning to colors associated with dancing. Blend the colors together to create different shades, or simply press down hard with the crayon, chalk, or pencil to achieve a darker color, and press down gently for a lighter color.
Complete the top half circle and examine it for a few moments, perhaps talking to God about what you see. Now finish the lower part of the circle, working from the right back to the left; the colors will represent going from dancing back to mourning. Feel free if you wish to choose different colors for this half of the circle so long as they represent your feelings towards dancing and mourning.
A time to reflect
Once the circle is completely colored in, reflect upon your life, and write down one or two times when you were more attuned to the left hand side of the circle; now do the same for the right hand side. How does the shape of the circle and how it has been colored inspire hope? How does it relate to the verse you chose from Ecclesiastes 3?
Go back to those times you listed that were more attuned to the left hand side of the circle and consider their resolution. Write a letter to God or simply talk through with him about how that difficult time moved to some sort of resolution:
- What did grace have to do with that resolution?
- Was there a healing or a correction of the problem?
- Did you instead learn to make peace with that time in your life even though it might not have been resolved as you would have liked?
Once you are through describing this time in your life, take some time to be quiet so that you can sense his reply.
Finally, watch the following two videos:
“Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell, sung when she was young (about the cyclical nature of life):
“Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell (about seeing different sides to clouds, life, and love), sung when she was much older.
Note the change of mood and voice—
- Can you sense how the cycles of life have affected this artist?
- Do you feel any similarity between your own experience and what you detect in her singing of these songs?
- How has your faith in God sustained you through the different cycles of your life?
copyright 2015 Susan W. Bailey;
from Chapter 3 of River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times,
published by Ave Maria Press