Writing the Sacred: A Psalm Writing Workshop

When: Saturday, October 25, 2014
Where: St. Paul’s-Eastern United Church
473 Cumberland, Ottawa
Workshop: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  
Cost: Suggested Registration: $25 | Students: $10
For information or to register phone: 613-237-1821 

Ray McGinnis -  Writing the Sacred

Workshop leader Ray McGinnis brings a splendid range of writing exercises to spark your imagination. At this workshop, come play with words, come nurture your spirit as you learn ways to write your own new psalms. Explore how Psalm writing can deepen personal and spiritual growth.
Ray brings to this workshop simple step-by-step exercises to help you write a new psalm with ease. Come and explore the thin spaces where reflective writing and spirituality meet. This workshop is designed for both those who enjoy writing and those who have never put pen to paper. This is a workshop open to older children, youth and adults. Signed copies of Writing the Sacred will be available for sale during the workshop for those who wish to purchase a copy priced at $25.

Bio: Ray McGinnis is author of Writing the Sacred. He is a graduate of the Center for Christian Studies and is a former national staff person for Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the United Church of Canada. He leads poetry workshops, prayer writing workshops, Psalm-writing workshops and journal writing workshops. A popular presenter, Ray has taught over 13,000 participants at writing workshops across North America.  His website is www.writetotheheart.com. He lives in Vancouver.

 

The Soul’s Language: Creative Writing as a Spiritual Practice

“I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.”

Anna Quindlen

Everyone is looking for something: security, adventure, peace, excitement, wisdom, love. We look all around us for the things we need. We look to nature, to people, to technology, to art, to God. But some things we cannot find outside of ourselves, no matter how hard we look. There are some questions that can only be answered from within. Most of us know this, instinctively, but we don’t know how to do it. How, exactly, do we turn and look within ourselves for the answers we cannot find in the world around us?

Anna Quindlen, and most every other author, might say, “by writing.”

Writing – thoughtfully, creatively – is one of the great spiritual disciplines, often overlooked because it has become so common-place and is used for so many other, less profound, purposes. So, please join us as we reclaim creative writing as a spiritual practice. Faith and Arts Ottawa is about to offer a four-week creative writing workshop, open to anyone who is interested in exploring how writing can be a path to connecting to the sacred within. Here are the details.

THE SOUL’S LANGUAGE: CREATIVE WRITING AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

WHY: Our lives are so stressful and full of activity that little time remains to connect with the voice of creativity within (our essence). Spiritual practices free up our internal voice so that our lives become more grounded and centred.

WHAT: The practice of creative writing (including poetry) can reveal our fullest capacities of heart and mind. This four-week workshop explores a variety of activities for accessing your most intimate and unobstructed voice. It is open to anyone who would like to explore writing/poetry as a path to connecting with the sacred within.

WHEN: Four Thursdays, 7:00 – 9:00 pm, November 15 – December 6, 2012.

WHERE: Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Avenue (Bank and Aylmer) in Room 5.

Registration fee is $50.00 for the series (or sliding scale). To inquire or register: info@faithandartsottawa.org or http://www.faithandartsottawa.org.

Here’s a link to a poster with more information: Creative Writing as a Spiritual Practice

Exploring God Through Poetry – Again!

Rideau Park United Church – Tuesday, July 10th, 7 p.m. – 9 .m.

A few weeks ago 17 of us: men and women, young and old, gathered at Glebe-St. James United Church to have a conversation about poetry and God.  It was a wonderful evening, with lots of insightful and thought-provoking comments.  We’re thrilled that Daniel has agreed to lead another evening of reading and conversation, this time at Rideau Park United Church (1103 Alta Vista Drive, at the corner of Alta Vista and Cunningham).  Everyone welcome, no previous experience with poetry needed!

Daniel wrote an introduction for the first workshop, here is it …

What, exactly, does a poet do? Does she do anything, or is it rather that something happens to her? In what sense is she in control?

One of the very few arguments that I had with my roommate in first year university revolved around this question. He was a poet. I was not. He insisted that the best poetry could not be controlled or thought out – it was something that happened to you. That made me uncomfortable. I like to analyze things. I liked the definition of poetry as “the right word in the right place”. The perfect poem is a triumph of order – an extraordinary piece of thinking on the part of a master word-smith.

The wonderful thing about poetry is that both of us are right. For every great poem that has been edited 800 times, there is an equally great poem that was written in a drug-induced blur of feeling. For every sonnet that conforms perfectly to a complex and rational pattern, there is a post-modern poem that conforms to no pattern at all. Sometimes, the poet really is a word-smith, tinkering and toiling until the poem is exactly right. Other times, she is a medium, barely even touching the ideas as they flow off of her pen.

Neither of these experiences is limited to poetry. For me, the most obvious metaphor is sports. Sometimes I’m barely even involved. Instead, I’m “in the zone,” reacting to the game before I have time to even think about it. Other times, I’m practicing – trying to train my un-thinking body how to shoot a basket-ball in the smartest way possible. Sometimes I control my body. Sometimes my body controls me.

There is a lot to be said about this dichotomy – about the way that words sometimes enclose meaning, and you like a writer because it makes you feel like you understand exactly what he is saying. And sometimes meaning explodes out of words, and you like it because it makes you feel like you’ll never know what he means. About how sometimes music makes you think about your life, and sometimes it makes you forget about it. Living life is an exercise in being pulled into and out of things. There is the feeling of control, of knowing and succeeding and resting; and there is the feeling of a lack of control, of failing and trying and learning.

God, it seems to me, is in both of these feelings. God made a world that we could understand, a world that we could succeed in. But he also made a world in which we fail, in which we never get to stop trying.