Some words are like a Rorschach.
At their mere mention particular images jump to mind.
Our perspective shapes the pictures, what is imagined and what is real.
Our perceptions are splotches of ink on a page. What emerges from both the darkness and the white space that surrounds, depends largely on not only what the soul is familiar with, but maybe even more importantly, what it craves.
Take the word Retreat. Its seemingly contrary meanings are such an exquisite example of the dichotomy of the heart—
For those of us who are headstrong and determined we visualize unacceptable defeat, an exercise in counting losses, giving up and giving in…
And then there are those who visualize a self-imposed sweet surrender, a refueling and recalibrating from the unrelenting grind.
When you look closely at the life you’re living, which definition do you see and do you seek?
One of my favorite clients once said that he wanted his home to be a, “retreat for a robust imagination” in his children’s’ lives. His Rorschach wasn’t one of a static, stagnant entity but the extending branches of a living, growing thing.
Where do you retreat to set your imagination free? If the answer is any other place but your sanctuary I have to ask you, why? When the demands of a confused and chaotic world have infiltrated every corner, when depletion and exhaustion is your spirit’s response to being home, it’s time for a wake-up call.
It’s easy to justify how we live—to sacrifice meaning for the mundane, to give up sacred territory to the relentless demands of the every day, to tune out the noise over tuning into the still small voice—but creating Sanctuary has never been about taking a breather so much as breathing new life.
Are we in need of retreat from the world’s demands? Absolutely, but there is so much more. There is an Artist, Dreamer, Maker, even Redeemer within us quietly waiting to be acknowledged, nurtured, and reborn. This is the role of our Sanctuaries—to be our cradles of inspiration and embodiments of the well-imagined life.
ELEMENTS OF RETREAT 1. Spaces are approached as canvases for artistic and self expression. Activity—invite loved ones to participate in a Rorschach-creating session. Share what images emerge. Discuss the concept of “perspective” and the ingredients (life experience, influences, priorities, creativity, imagination) that contribute to what we see. 2. Those who dwell within share a common image of the well-imagined life. Activity—discuss the definition of the well-imagined life. What is it? What are the essential ingredients? 3. Gathering spaces promote conversation and communion over avoidance and isolation. Activity—agree with others on what belongs only in the outside world, what will not be welcome within the sanctuary and why (language, images, attitudes, stories, people…add more). 4. Contemplative/Creative places revere the imagination and encourage “thinking hand” activities. Activity—chose an aesthetically-pleasing and comfortable chair to occupy a quiet space. Place drawing pad and sharpened pencils nearby and invite each member of the family to sketch thoughts/feelings/images once a day.
NOTES ABOUT THE Rorschach inkblot test
Introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach in 1921, this projective method of testing asks the subject to describe what he or she sees within a series of abstract inkblots.
While the validity of the testing is the subject of great debate, Inkblots themselves have become inspiring forms of conversational art, reframing discussions surrounding what is imagined as art forms in and of themselves.
NOTE ON MY RORSCHACH—ILLUMINATION
To create my inkblot I determined to use black and an iridescent yellow ink thinking the two would make a handsome pair. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect what would transpire. While I find the random, unfolding image fascinating I believe, as I shared above, the soul sees not only what is familiar but also what is craved. In the end, all of life is commentary—
At first glance the image was facing me upside down from as it appears to you now. What immediately struck me was the “creation” aspect of the shapes, abstract imagery of male and female reproductive systems.
When I turned the paper over, there in front of me was a glowing angel warrior. At his center, an orb, held up and undergirded by a female image seemingly growing out and from his countenance.
On her left [her heart] side, she is “raining light.” I must tell you this past week has been challenging as I have continual experienced radiating pain from my left side. From the message of this image, I am experiencing the intensity of His presence as we go through this together.
What will your inkblot reveal about who you are?