I’m a SoulCollage devotee. The first time I voiced a card, seven years ago, I heard my soul speaking and nearly wept with joy. I’ve been on a nonstop SoulCollage® journey ever since.
I identify myself as a Christian on a contemplative path, meaning that I participate fully in the life of a Lutheran church but find my deepest connection to Spirit through prayer, meditation, awareness, and silence. I’m also a spiritual director trained in the art of deep listening and openness to movements of grace.
I believe that our cards can become places of encounter and revelation: that the sacred dimension can reveal itself through our cards as we use imagination and intuition to discern the meaning that is being offered. In this brief article, I’ll share some ways I use SoulCollage® as a practical tool to deepen my relationship with the Divine.
Before I make or read cards, I center myself and open to Spirit. I put out my Transpersonal cards, light a candle, take some deep breaths, and meditate briefly or say a prayer. Setting a prayerful context is a powerful reminder that there is a larger world beyond my ego and that my greatest desire is to align with that dimension.
Making cards allows me to see what’s up with my soul, to feel my way into areas that need healing, and to explore areas of gift that want expression. Using cards is a way of gaining insight into how I can bring myself into greater alignment with the Divine. Finding a meaningful question is as important to me as the cards that come to answer that question. Some recent questions have included: What is the gift in this experience of brokenness? What will help me be a living witness to Love? What does God desire for me? What are my obstacles to Spirit?
Additionally, I use SoulCollage® as a way to explore spiritual texts. For example, last winter I was drawn to passages about Wisdom in the Old Testament. Some believe that Wisdom is the Shekinah, the feminine face of God, or the Indwelling Divine. As I was feeling attracted to Wisdom, I read the relevant Scripture passages daily and was alert for resonant images.
After making some cards, I had a dream where I was instructed by a mysterious figure named Sophie Scholl. (Sophia is the Greek word for wisdom, and I interpreted the dream as in invitation to be schooled in wisdom.) II then deepened the gift of the dream by making a Soul Collage® card that carried for me the weight and significance of the encounter. When I look at this card, it brings back that experience and renews my commitment to live in relationship with Source. SoulCollage® was an indispensable part of a process that allowed a sacred text to reveal itself as Living Word with meaning for me in the immediate context of my life and growth.
I’ve also used SoulCollage® to explore Gospel texts, theological concepts such as the Trinity, aspects of my relationship with Christ and God, and figures from religious traditions, such as St. Francis and the Buddha.
As a facilitator, I love to lead groups in both secular and religious settings, but I use different metaphors depending on the participants. For people who don’t connect to traditional Western religious concepts, the One and the Many as described by Seena Frost is a perfect way to evoke the spiritual dimension. It doesn’t have to be explained or described in great detail. The story of Indra’s Net sets the context, and then usually people experience the connection themselves as they make, voice and read their cards. Listening to others in the group speak about their processes can also help open people to a deepened awareness of their own experiences.
Offering SoulCollage® in specifically religious settings presents a different opportunity. Karl Rahner, a German theologian, said, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” I believe Rahner is pointing to the need for direct experience of the Divine rather than the intellectual positing of belief that has been a mainstay of traditional Western Christianity. SoulCollage® can assist in the journey towards a more felt connection with God. Many in traditional religious settings long for this connection but need more tools. SoulCollage®is an accessible, doable practice that can open up a wellspring of feeling, insight, and connection to the Divine. Those dedicated to traditional prayer practices can be deeply moved and experience transcendent beauty through SoulCollage®, if it is facilitated sensitively.
Last month I led a SoulCollage® workshop at a retreat center that offers a wide range of workshops. In the promotional materials, I’d advertised that we’d be exploring SoulCollage® as prayer. As we broke for lunch, an elderly nun left abruptly, without looking at me. I was concerned that I’d offended her. Other participants told me that she was in the middle of chemotherapy and usually rested in the afternoons. I worried through lunch, hoping I hadn’t disturbed her at a fragile time in her life.
But as the afternoon circle opened, there she was, sitting in her chair, clutching her card. She couldn’t wait to share it. Proud as a mother with a new baby, she held up an image of a daisy-strewn field at the edge of a dark forest. A ray of light beckoned from the darkness. “I am one who can enter the dark,” she said. “I am one who knows that the darkness cannot overcome the light.”
When the day was over, she came and found me. “That card is the best prayer I ever prayed. I know now that God won’t abandon me,” she said. “You keep doing this, dear. I’m going to tell the other sisters to come.”
Thank you to Katherine Ziegler who invited me to write this article for the SoulCollage facilitators’ newsletter!