As a Spiritual Formation Intern, on staff with The Upper Room for the summer, I help create hospitable spaces for connecting with God through artistic expression. Recently, I had the opportunity to create such space for college students serving as Project Transformation interns.
The Upper Room staff welcomed 16 Project Transformation interns for their "Friday Experience” on June 15, inviting them into intentional time for rest and vocational discernment during their busy week. The dedicated college students are spending their summer with Project Transformation Tennessee, a dynamic ministry that builds leadership skills and transforms communities through relationships. This transformation happens by supporting underserved children with educational and spiritual care and by helping local churches connect with their changing neighborhoods. The Upper Room has sponsored a house pastor, provided a “Friday Experience,” and commissioned staff volunteers to help since its Nashville start-up in 2012.
The “Friday Experience” at The Upper Room begins with a home-style breakfast and fellowship and then moves into The Upper Room Chapel for a service of Morning Prayer and Communion. This year, after the service, I offered a workshop entitled, “Seeing God’s Call Through Color.” This particular workshop invited the interns to slow down and pay attention to the various ways God calls us.
After a time of centering and reflecting on scripture and poetry, we shifted to focus on color and artistry using alcohol ink. This medium requires that the artist allow the ink to flow and lends itself to yielding control. It is often difficult to predict the way the colors will move and blend, yet the finished piece is always unique and beautiful. During the closing reflection time, many participants noted that it was nice to take time to breathe and rest in the process of creating. Project Transformation interns and Upper Room staff, alike, enjoyed having space to collectively talk, create, discern and reflect on the holy process of seeing God through color.
For more information on Project Transformation, click here.
Erin Pearce recently graduated from Boston University School of Theology where she earned her Masters of Divinity with a focus in Church and the Arts. She currently works at the Upper Room with The Academy for Spiritual Formation as the Spiritual Formation Intern. Part of her work at the Upper Room includes imagining ways to explore spirituality through the visual arts and creating space to bring those ideas to life.
"Many of us are used to the idea that we might speak to God or to Jesus. Maybe at times it feels like shouting into the darkness or whatnot, but it’s not hard to do—at least as an imaginative exercise. What’s harder—even imaginatively—is to try to hear Jesus speaking to us. Are we just making things up? Are we just using Jesus as a puppet to say whatever we want to hear?" READ MORE