Radiant Joy Blog

Pay Attention to an Image that Mesmerizes or Repels You


CONSIDER THAT AN IMAGE THAT MESMERIZES OR REPELS YOU IS OFTEN A MIRROR FOR ASPECTS OF YOURSELF. Consider letting such an image inspire a creative project for the purpose of self-discovery. Why? Because knowing yourself is important, and it’s something we often learn better through experiences and spontaneous insights, rather than through conscious thinking. When you relax and have fun with something creative, you become receptive in that “letting go” sort of way. It’s like getting a good idea in the shower or while out in the garden.

To explore the possibilities of a fascinating visual item, begin with an image, perhaps in a design journal. After looking at it a while, sit with your eyes closed and let your imagination go. If other images or associations come to you, put them in your design journal, too. You might even wish to pose a question and sit in silence to see if you receive certain words or an insight. 

HOW I LEARNED THIS: I began with a photograph of the Sydney Opera House, a building that totally captivates me. I thought of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which we had climbed on the same trip to Sydney when I fell in love with the Opera House. As I sat with a photo of the Opera House, a poem quickly came to me, where “I” is the Opera House talking to me:

I have strong structure and soft curves.

     Be glad that you do too, woman.


I open my doors and invite others in.

     You can, too.


I fill my halls with music and dance.

     Fill yours with such joy also!


I sit still and let the light shine on me.

     Do the same, with a capital L.


I represent creative art, innovation, and transcendent beauty.

     You create that, too.


I am uplifting and inspiring. 

     So are you.


The Sydney Harbor Bridge and I are landmarks together, and this partner doesn’t dwarf me.

     Likewise, you are not less significant in this world than your husband and his work.


I must be preserved, and so must you.

This blessed me indeed! I was surprised and delighted with the Opera House speaking to me, giving me a poem (as I don’t frequently write poetry), and offering wisdom and guidance through the words I received. I was touched at the connection between this special structure and qualities within myself. The experience highlighted the importance of opening up to others and filling one’s life with joy, embracing stillness, and embodying creative art and beauty. Most profound for me at the time was the parallel drawn between the two landmarks and between my husband and me, debunking feelings of insignificance I sometimes felt compared to my husband and his work. (I now understand that comparing oneself to others is not a healthy habit to engage in, but I didn’t realize that at the time!) Finally, yes, we women need to preserve ourselves, which we are called to do through sacred self-care since we are temples of the Holy Spirit! I remain grateful even now, fifteen years later, for that self-discovery experience and its blessings.

The photo below is my abstract quilt, Down Under. The lighter shape is my version of an icon for the Sydney Opera House, facing four directions, while the dark arches echo the curves of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I made this using a quick fusing technique. While I enjoy this 17”x17” wallhanging, its true value lies in the lessons and personal growth gained from this creativity exercise, which I intentionally undertook for the spiritual experience.

Other writings on spiritual growth through creativity can be found in my previous blog post, Embracing Creativity’s Transformative Power in Times of Change, and in my book, Reap As You Sew: Spirit at Work in Quiltmaking, available on my website. I urge you to also pay attention to any images, foods, dances, or other creations that repel or mesmerize you, to see what they may have to teach you!


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