One A Week Psalm Project
An exploration of creativity as spiritual discipline
This is an outline of this process and of how and why I came to this project.
It’s a bit lengthy but I tend to over-elaborate and this felt like it needed a proper outline.
Scroll down for the outline of the project.
Introduction – how it all came about:
A few months ago I had an idea for a ridiculously long project. That I would read, meditate on, pray about and make something in response to each Psalm – one Psalm a week, as a practical outworking of creativity as spiritual discipline.
To test the idea out, I began to read a few books on the Psalms and while I kept reading them, I also began to feel a little scared of the project, its length, its breadth, its intensity – 150 weeks is nearly 3 years…
I have a bit of a fear of long term planning at the moment as for the past 15 years or so, pretty much everything I’ve tried to plan as been greatly impacted, diverted or halted or taken away because of my health, or lack thereof.
But I am also project and meaning-making orientated. My satisfaction and contentment with life doesn’t come from the amount of money I’m making (although having enough money to survive without panic definitely makes a difference to my life and mental health) but from the meaning it brings to my life and without a doubt, creativity and making art bring immense amounts of contentment, challenge and especially meaning to my life.
So the Psalm project seemed too big, too much of a commitment and I talked myself out of it. Except on the Sunday before New Years this year the idea came back to me and made me feel lighter. I had just had 3 days where I had barely left the house and I’d done things I’d wanted to do for ages. It was glorious. I made things. I tidied up. I nested. I set up my house and studio spaces. I spent time filling up my soul again.
And the Psalm Project came back to me and I felt quite at peace about it. So I began to prepare some things and on the 1stof 2019 I began.
It still scares me a bit and I’m still worried about sharing it online but I’ve pondered this for some time and I am now 8 weeks in. I have stuck with it and I have decided to begin to share parts of my experience and reflections. I’ll be sticking to posting about a Psalm a week, so at this point, we will always be 8 weeks behind where I actually am in real life.
I have a book of blank pages – there is space for 98 Psalms if I use double pages - one side of creative images, one side of written up psalm. I also write up the Psalm in another book. I will attempt to read the Psalm, pray, meditate, read short commentaries and reflect during the week.
I plan (at this stage) to start the week on a Tuesday (it is both the first day of the year and it works well for my working week). I plan to spend ½ hr each morning, except for Saturdays while studying when I will probably spend less time. I plan to do creative things on Thursdays and Sunday and reflections on Monday.
However, I am willing to be flexible on this and see what happens. I feel no compulsion to stick with this if it becomes unfeasible and I am willing to step back if need be.
These are guidelines, a starting point – but guidelines that I’m willing to break if need be.
But – the other however is - it can be good to have guidelines to work with. They can provide structure, a way forward without having to make decisions all the time and may offer some security. This is the way with spiritual disciplines - they are helpful until they are not. They are tools to engagement with God, not the end product in themselves and for them to be helpful we have to be completely honest without ourselves and with God.
I will just have to see what happens.
How the project will be shared:
About social media & online engagement:
While I am interested to see who engages and what they say, if anything, I also feel no compulsion to engage.
This project is a sample, an example, a trial of a personal spiritual exercise and it is not a theological treaties.
These are ponderings most likely early morning or late at night. They are about feelings, ideas, wonderings, ponderings and questions – the questions that we ask even when we know the answers.
It is a prayerful journey that is not a final word or though on anything.
And it is only a sample of what I actually think, ponder, prayer and write.
I choose to offer the written pieces I do to show a wide sample of the process I am going through and the experience of this project. I have already specifically chosen to keep particular things I have pondered private.
Therefore, I may or may not engage in any particular discussion online, because what I write, may not be actually the end product of what I believe but part of a process or a simple outworking of my own spiritual journey – and part of the exploration of creativity as spiritual discipline.
I come to this project with a history of study, research, interest and many years of exploring how all this might work. If you wish to find out more about my study and history see here.
Stick with me if you like.
We’ll see how we go.