Art as a Spiritual Practice
The following is a listing and description of most of the courses and workshops Wendi offers. She is always developing new ideas and loves to research more material for presentation and discussion. Wendi can adjust any course to the needs of the group, and if it isn't here, please ask - because you may be the beginning of something totally new!
FULL-ON PARTICIPATION COURSES:
- Art as a Spiritual Practice
Art as a Spiritual Practice is a contemplative prayer practice that utilizes creative play with art materials to listen for God. In the beginning God created. As humans made in the image of God, our intuitive creations connect us to divine inspiration. These silent meditation sessions include a few guided questions designed to stimulate thought about one’s own art piece and allow time for the spirit to emerge and reveal what the mind is usually too cluttered or too busy to think. No previous art skills or experience necessary, just a willingness to try a different kind of prayer. This course is appropriate for all adults and mature children (sessions require one hour of silence while doing the art and reflection). Depending on the request of the host, this series could involve multiple art techniques (such as mandala, collage, watercolor, paint, etc) or focus on one technique (such as collage) with topics that change over time. Using one technique pairs very well with labyrinth walking as a final session, using all of the previous art reflections for prayer along the way.
- Poetry as a Spiritual Practice
Poetry as a Spiritual Practice is a six week workshop which combines reading and thoughtful reflection on published poetry with responsive writing and sharing of one's own poetry. Participants will read and discuss poetry from a variety of voices, mining the depths for reflection and thoughtfulness. Each participant will be encouraged to keep a journal in which to respond to the poem with mindful reflection and prayer. Participants will also be invited to write poems through exercises based on the poetry discussed, and material in their journal, which they are encouraged (but not required) to share with the group over the course of the six weeks.
- Theatre as a Spiritual Practice
Many techniques used in theatrical warm-ups and team-building lend themselves to spiritual direction and deep reflective thinking. Through a combination of exercises to loosen up, cultivating a mindset of letting go of cognitive control, developing subtext for characters in improvisation, and debriefing each encounter and experience, participants will be lead through a series of individual and group games, role-playing exercises, biblical stories, and tableaux. Based on the principle of "yes-and," this workshop is designed for movement and fun engagement with stories in order to discover what's going on in one's spirit.
- Music as a Spiritual Practice
This category is dependent on the request of the host group. Possibilities include participation in and/or learning to facilitate: a basic drum circle; bucket ensemble to aid in scripture memorization or relationship building; Boomwhacker ensembles; or getting started with handbells.
FACILITATED DISCUSSION COURSES:
Finding God in Culture series
No artist creates in a vacuum. Many of our human stories are captured in visual arts, music, literature, poetry, and other genres of the Arts. Each period of history and its culture has been laid bare by the prophetic voices of those creative people who have sought to capture its essence, expose its evils, and/or inspire its heart. This series of courses places each artifact into the context of its historical, cultural, and social setting and encourages participants to unearth the possible theological and prophetic messages in each, considering intersections of the art and our own lives. Common questions we consider with each artifact: “What does this artist claim about who God is? Who we are? What does it mean to live as a person of faith?” There are no answers given; intentional engagement with these works will open us up to new perspectives, thoughts and ideas. “A piece of art is never a finished work. It answers a question which has been asked, and asks a new question.” ~Robert Engman, sculptor
- Finding God in Culture Paintings I (The Bible in Visual Art - from Creation to End Times)
- Finding God in Culture Paintings II (The Bible in Visual Art - Life of Christ)
- Finding God in Culture Music I (Hymnody, Congregational Song and Sacred Music)
- Finding God in Culture Music II (Secular Music: U2 and other pop culture rockstars)
- Finding God in Culture Poetry
- Finding God in Culture single courses on specific films or books also available
FOR WORSHIP SERVICES AND LARGE GATHERINGS:
- Choral Reading of Scripture
In this style of scripture reading, participants rehearse together in order to present scripture to the congregation with sound, movement, and visual interest. Like the chorus of Greek plays, participants speak and move together for a powerful effect. This mode of speaking scripture in variously sized groups of one to five, alternating and combining the voices in sync with the underlying scriptural text, brings new perspective to hearing the familiar words without being hokey or acted out (no acting required).
- Scripture in Tableaux
To bring additional life to the scripture reading, these directed snapshots give congregations a visual image with gesture to bring out the story as the scripture is read, with pauses or the congregation to reflect a moment on the scene. There is no acting, no sets and no costumes involved. With very simple techniques of gesture and staging, scripture can come alive. This workshop is perfect for pairing with Theater as a Spiritual Practice.
WHO'S BEEN DOING THESE WORKSHOPS?
- First United Methodist Church of Colleyville, TX - Finding God in Culture (poetry)
- Peace Together, Northeast Tarrant County, TX - Theater Improv for relationship building
- Missional Wisdom Foundation National Gathering, Dallas, TX - Art as a Spiritual Practice (contemplative reflection with art)
- First United Methodist Church of Grapevine, TX - Teen Lenten Arts series (collage for prayer series with labyrinth)
- Private party, Weatherford, TX - Art as a Spiritual Practice (ecumenical contemplative reflection with art)
- First United Methodist Church of Keller, TX - Finding God in Culture (sacred music, pop culture music)
- Central Texas Conference UMC Children's Worker retreat - Art as a Spiritual Practice (contemplative reflection with art)
- Private party, Outer Banks, NC - Art as a Spiritual Practice (multi-faith contemplative reflection with art)
- Peace Together of Northeast Tarrant County (TX) inaugural event - performance art mandala (inter-faith community)
- Vital Leadership Academy worship services (contemplative reflection with art)
- Central Texas Conference Confirmation Celebration - FUMC Killeen ,TX (contemplative art meditation break-out session)
- Pilgrimage to Iona - Missional Wisdom Foundation with Bishop Lowry of the Central Texas Conference (contemplative meditation for young adults in vocational discernment)
- Ignatia House, Chicago, IL - Arts Retreat (comprehensive two day event)
- First United Methodist Church of Cleburne, TX - Arts Retreat (comprehensive two day event)
- White's Chapel United Methodist Church of Southlake, TX - Creative Prayer (contemplative reflection with art), Finding God in Culture (paintings; sacred and secular music), drum circle
About the Facilitator:
Rev Wendi Bernau is the Pastor of the Arts for the Missional Wisdom Foundation. She is an experienced spiritual director and retreat facilitator, performing artist, writer, and musician. Wendi is a United Methodist clergywoman but her programs are appropriate for all faiths.