By AARON ROSE, second year student in the Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts MFA program
This post was written for Cindy Shearer's CIA 7712: MFA Project. In these blogs, students are sharing their discoveries, reflections and learning as they enter the process of creating a body of art work and culminate their degrees.
I came to the MFA program with a dream and a vision: to become a writer of fiction, and to create a ceremonial practice that reclaims art as sacred ritual for individual and collective transformation and healing.
Coming of age in the 60s and early 70s, I am a child of the generation that came careening out of convention, dazzled by glimpses of the Age of Aquarius.
My own rebirth, a radical and traumatic process, required a 40-year journey of deep personal healing and repatterning, finding along the way a like-hearted community of seekers who found home in ancient wisdom and medicine ways carried by indigenous brothers and sisters throughout the world. From the ones who walk in harmony with the Earth, I adopted a cosmology and container of love and knowing that supports every aspect of my life.
Seven years ago, I stood on a street in a west side Chicago neighborhood, asking if I might create a work of art that would propel the social justice to which I had dedicated my passion and professional career. What came to me from the collective unconscious was an idea, a story that has become my novel-in-progress, “Lawndale,” about place, race, and healing the past to midwife the future.
Making the decision to enter the Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts program, I thought that dedication to my spiritual vision and the service of community building would support my heart’s desire: to write a novel.
After a year of attempting to think my way toward creating a ceremonial arts practice, three weeks ago, on the Autumn Equinox, the beating of my heart called me back to center: to the writer I am and to the novel I had taken such pains to birth. Now focused on nurturing “Lawndale,” I realize that clarity on the journey toward serving community will come when I am aligned with my primary soul purpose.
The director of Lines Ballet spoke at CIIS that evening on the Autumn Equinox. Alonzo King, a man who radiates love and integrity through embodying his calling, cautioned us against doing precisely what I had been doing: using art to achieve something else, "doing this in order to achieve that," instead of practicing purely because the heart compels us to do what we love.
Interestingly, happily, one of the main characters in my novel does community-based ceremonial work, creating initiatory practices for teenaged girls. We are going to explore possibilities together. It’s the beauty and perfection of being a writer: I imagine and I act by writing about a magical blend of learning through observation and doing…
I am learning to understand and committed to standing in this truth as I see it: we are agents of our own creative process and serve as witnesses to one another as we pursue, through our own beings, experiences and stories about the sacred process of interpreting earthly existence with our divine capacity for imagination. Our lives become a co-creative work of art when we challenge and inspire ourselves to discover and illuminate for others new ways to live and to be.