For more than 90 minutes, Daved and I watched with amused interest.

Except for bathroom breaks, the four Certified Zentangle Teachers® shared nonstop in an excited, animated way their experiences of Zentangle Art, their insights from the last training, their experiences of teaching others, and the joys expressed by those they had newly trained. The emotional fervor of the moment forced them to occasionally reach out and touch each other, or shed tears of rapture and wonder.

 I could've sworn that these women had just returned from some fundamentalist revival meeting.

 A one point, my eyes lost focus on the scene in front of me as the women’s words faded. Suddenly, I am an 8 year old boy, watching from the top step, mesmerized, as my aunts, Maude, Fanny, and Amanda, three of my dad’s sisters, circled on the porch for a Sunday afternoon, competitively share their experiences of the latest revival meetings, of hearing the most inspiring evangelists, of giving testimony to their spiritual experiences, and of having brought others into the fold.

 This scene from my childhood has not been in my consciousness for half a century. Now it has been called forth most vividly by the four women in front of me sharing their inspiration from the latest “revival meeting” with “Brother Rick” and “Sister Maria"; thus having been inspired to go out and “teach the gospel” to others.

Profoundly touched by this experience, their lives have moved to newer, richer paths.

"In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.” wrote Norman Maclean in his novel A River Runs Through It. One could easily paraphrase his quote to “between religion and Zentangle”.

“But……….” I can hear you protest, “There's no theological doctrine in Zentangle. No right. No wrong. Nothing that gets you sent to Hell. They have nothing in common.”

I beg to differ. Even an alien visiting this planet for the first time can see the similarities.

In your mind, picture two video screens, side by side, one shows your usual religious service, the second, a Zentangle® teacher training. No sound; only video. What do we see on both screens?

We see people entering quietly, expectantly, greeting each other with smiles, anticipating a shared experience.

People move to their places, sit down and become less animated.

The moment the leader/ leaders stand in front of the group, the group members all give their undivided attention.

Soon, they all bow their heads.

For everyone, the focus is on the space in front of them.

After a period of time, the quiet focus comes to an end, people look up, turn to each other and smile.

Later, when the entire gathered ritual is complete, and the participants continue to congregate, speaking warmly to each other of what they had just experienced.

Since ancient times, the function of religious rituals has been to quiet the body, to still the mind, to narrow the focus to very specific point in time and space, and to lower the frequency of vibration in which we exist. In that stillness, we can come in contact with the very ground of our being. In that place, we become more loving, compassionate, and creative. From that place, artists create, musicians compose, and writers write.

In the silence of our observation, Daved commented it was his thinking that creativity was about connection; connection to something deep inside, as well as in connection to others outside. I think he's onto something there. Zentangle, like religion, connects us with something deep and mystical inside, and allows us to somehow connect with the community at large in some more creative, compassionate way.

Community, whether it comes from shared creativity, or shared Christianity, has a kindred basis. For both congregations, community is a byproduct that arises from a collective transcendent experience. Zentangle, like all spiritual practices, is one path to that experience.

These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google
  • Furl
  • Reddit
  • Spurl
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati