Providence Spirituality Centre in Kingston, Ont., is offering an artists retreat in May. Photo courtesy of Sr. Lucy Bethel

The Heart of Creativity, where faith meets art

  • April 3, 2016

For anyone looking to figuratively and literally brush up on their faith, Kingston Ont.’s Providence Spirituality Centre is the place to be in May.

Providence will host a five-day art retreat titled The Heart of Creativity: Contemplation, Art and Mystery.

“It is inviting people to make this connection between spirituality and art as a medium of opening another door,” said Sr. Lucy Bethel, director of the centre operated by the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. “They’re coming to be at prayer and to have art as the medium that moves them into prayer.”

This retreat, the first of its kind Providence has offered, will take place from May 2 to 7 at a cost of $360 per participant. It is to be facilitated by Passionist Brother Michael Moran, an American artist.

Each day will begin with a lecture by Moran who will then guide participants as they attempt to create a painting of their own. And although painting is part of the process, Moran stressed that no experience is necessary to reap the benefits. That’s because it is the process that is important, not the final physical product.

“Even if someone has no experience they’ll still get something out of this,” he said. “The process is what is important, not the end result.” Moran likens the act of creating art to meditation. “With creating visual art the focus is the same as the focus of meditation or mindfulness,” said Moran. “When we look at a piece of art, or when we try to create a piece of art, whether it is visual art or dance or music ... you are so focused on putting it down on paper that everything in your head kind of recedes.”

Achieving that inner silence is a critical component to deepening one’s spirituality, said Bethel. “Our retreats are offered in an atmosphere of silence and we invite people to come and spend time in quiet,” she said. “In this busy world that we live in the purpose of a retreat and the purpose of every one of our retreats is to invite people to take time out of their busy schedule to come into the quiet space that we attempt to provide. It calls us to let go of all the busyness of the world outside and just move into that place that allows us to be open to mystery.”

Along with the art retreat, Providence also offers directed retreats with themes such as photography, cosmology and sacred clowning as well as a variety of non-directed getaways. Additionally, it offers a number of workshops throughout the years.

Deciding which is right for you requires personal discernment.

“The first thing you have to ask yourself is why do you want to make a retreat,” said Bethel. “What is your desire that brings you to seek out and look for particular kinds of retreats.”

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