Spiritual Director Kathy Cave shares her experience of developing ‘Theopoetics and Midrash – an Ignatian Impulse of our Time’ at Jesuit College of Spirituality’s Ignatian Spirituality in a time of Engagement online conference with Dr Sally Longley in January this year.
“My journey of imagination began as a child. Being the fifth of seven children, I was often left to my own devices, and so my active imagination was born and cultivated” remembers Kathy.
However, in quite the opposite vein, Kathy’s experience of Christianity was very rational and logical and largely excluded feelings. This experience of life was compounded by her university studies in accounting and economics at university “where my imagination went to sleep!”
“To be introduced to Ignatian Spirituality where imagination and feelings were encouraged was phenomenal for me.” Kathy’s experiences in Ignatian Spirituality took her on a journey to train as a Spiritual Director and an Art Therapist.
“Sally Longley introduced me to Midrash, and I loved it” Kathy said. From their common interest, they offered a four-week introduction to Midrash and theopoetics as part of the Wise Art of the Soul online formation series during 2020. And they developed a presentation for the JCS Conference.
Creating the presentation was a unique outcome, something we would not individually have imagined!
Kathy describes their approach to the JCS presentation saying: “We worked iteratively; debating what to include and why, exploring images, pondering how the content might evoke connections for participants, where it invited a “difference” to Ignation ideas … the process was fun, creative and resulted in a unique outcome, something we would not individually have imagined.”
“Theopoetics and Midrash come from very different origins” explains Kathy “they are both creative responses to texts, particularly to theological or religious texts. Theopoetics releases our responses through metaphors, embodiment, art forms and symbol. It invites us to let the rational and propositional aspects of theology to be in conversation with dance, colour, movement, poetry, and to have a healthy debate with our own eccentricity and outlandish thoughts, as well as with our doubts, pains, joys and mystery. The hermeneutics of Midrash gives permission to explore the infinite depth of meaning and possible lessons, knowing that the text is robust. Midrash is a great way to give voice the “white spaces” or the silences in scripture.”
This clay hand was moulded by a course participant: “My mind was busy thinking about different meaningful characteristics of God, leaving my hands free to create the hand of God holding me… It brought the sense /realisation of God being intimately close and supporting me after a long period of perceiving a vast distance between us.” Her physical act of moulding or creating, augmented a traditional Ignatian focus on imagination.
Kathy Cave is a Spiritual Director with JISA Canisius. In 2021 together with JISA Canisius Spiritual Directors Dr Sally Longley and Dieter Weinand, she is offering a series of experiential online trainings which include courses in Theopoetics and Midrash, see https://jisa.org.au/retreat/wise-arts-for-the-soul/.
If you would like to explore Spiritual Direction and Ignatian Retreats, go to www.jisa.org.au/retreats or contact Jesuit and Ignatian Spirituality Australia on 1300 EXAMEN (1300-392-636) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.