I recently spoke on the phone with Tara M. Owens, CSD, MTS, the author of At Play In God’s Creation- an Illuminating Coloring Book. This book is not a fluffy bit of New Age nonsense but based on Tara’s profound grasp of both traditional, Catholic spirituality and human nature. She has learned exactly how to help people be in the moment where they can meet God. Even after quickly scanning the book, I understood at once why Tara and Daniel. W. Sorenson, the illustrator, created a prayer journal as a colouring book.
For more than eight years, Tara has been a Certified Spiritual Director through the Canadian Council of Professional Certification, a retreat leader, and a speaker with Anam Cara Ministries. By gently asking questions, she guides people on their journey with God. Not only does she have a Masters in Theological Studies in Spiritual Formation but she is also the senior editor of Conversations Journal and the author of Embracing the Body: Finding God in Our Flesh & Bones.
Getting To Know Tara
Tara’s background is fascinating. For example, she used to be an amateur boxer. For nearly eight years, she competed in boxing, muay thai boxing and kickboxing. It surprises people because she is a soft-spoken spiritual director, but she loved the sport and learned so much about herself from it. She hopes to get back to it.
Five years ago, she had a heart attack. It was completely out of the blue and almost totally unexplained; she didn’t have high blood pressure or cholesterol.
Believe it or not, Tara has never had a full cup of coffee in her life. She knows she tends towards addictive behaviors, so she has avoided coffee because she had a sense if she started drinking coffee, she’d overdo it.
Lastly, Tara is British-born and a Canadian, living in the United States on a green card. Tara’s eclectic background has helped form a delightful woman who is flexible enough to accompany all types of personalities as they journey to the heart of God.
Colouring Leads to Interior Silence
For some Christians, spiritual reading can inspire them and pave the way for an encounter with God. For others, like Tara, the written word is simply a cerebral activity which does not touch their inner spirit. Tara discovered that creativity and art facilitates an encounter with God for most people when they are introduced to the experience.
At Play In God’s Creation is an invitation to experience Divine Love in a concrete way. When people focus on coloring, they concentrate on being present to the moment. Playful creativity helps people relax and let go of distractions and worries. As minds gradually become quiet, people discover they are able to be simply in the moment, in silence, where they are free to meet God in a healing encounter. Many counselors use coloring or drawing to draw out what ails a child – especially in situations of abuse. This is a natural progression from this method.
Most importantly, coloring is a delightful way to discover joyful intimacy with God because people find themselves creating with the Creator. In this way, it seems to me that this book functions as a sacramental. An engagement with the physical activity of picking up a marker draws people into their body, leading to an intense awareness of self and then a forgetting of self where they are open to a touch from God.
Coloring Your Way to Inner Freedom
The introduction of At Play In God’s Creation explains contemplative prayer:
these pages contain more than lines and spaces, quotes and reflections. At Play in God’s Creation is an invitation to meditation and contemplative prayer….The words woven throughout are breadcrumbs dropped by our playful guides along the way, saints and sinners who have walked in the world before us, who understand the love of God and our brokenness in ways both profound and simple.
At Play In God’s Creation is 96 pages of intricate designs and labyrinths with prayer prompts, quotes from the saints and mystics, as well as images to discover. It facilitates a quiet, meditative experience. People discover they can connect with God through creativity because the coloring book integrates searching drawings with brief prompts and spiritual intentions. People can fill paths with their own designs, discovering contemplation in the ensuing silence.
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Copyright 2016 Melanie Jean Juneau