An Invitation to CREATE

By Cissy Brady-Rogers and Stephanie Jenkins

As we prepare to gather our community for our annual fall retreat, I reflect on the power of Nature and how it divinely inspires our creativity. In 2010, after a trip of exploration that took me to the roots of my Irish heritage, I found myself deeply inspired by open spaces, rivers, dirt, grass, trees, birds, wind, rain, clouds, rocks, cows, sheep, goats, bugs and the great outdoors. I wanted to commune more, to explore more, and take time to observe the creativity of our wild spaces. 

Throughout time contemplatives of all sorts have nurtured their spirits through communion with the earth. Previously uninhabited deserts and islands removed from ordinary life were natural sanctuaries. In the 6th century, Christians built a monastic community atop Skellig Michael island off the coast of Ireland – one of the sacred places we visited during our trip. The 600 steps we climbed were just one of three paths the monks who inhabited the island between the 6th and 12th centuries built to navigate the steep climb from the Atlantic Ocean to their stone slab home 600 feet above.

In the 10th century St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote that the natural world is our greatest teacher: “Believe me as one who has experience, you will find much more among the woods then ever you will find among books. Woods and stones will teach you what you can never hear from any master.”

A few weeks after my return, one of my soul friends and I took a walk in Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco (Spanish for “dry gulch”). Best known as the home of the Rose Bowl, the Arroyo’s trails, native plants, and wildlife remind me that even though I’m far from the green, moist, cool motherland that made my soul sing and skin ever-so-happy, I can still find ways to nourish my connection to nature. The desert beauty of the Arroyo held us as we shared our hearts with each other.

Afterward, we wrote poems using an exercise from Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words. Spontaneous and birthed by intuition rather than efforts to write “good” poetry, we painted pictures of God’s work in our innermost beings. I wrote about my Irish roots while her poem perfectly captured the essence of our conversation in the Arroyo.

Humans, made in the image of our creator, are invited into reciprocating relationships. We are prepared to converse with our inspirations, our wild spaces, our divinity, both inside ourselves and in the world around us. I am excited to invite you to share in this experience at our fall retreat, CREATE. We will share a day of discovery and inspiration as our community gathers in the hills of Monrovia. 

Until then, be blessed by the words of my soul friend, fellow creative contemplative, junior high teacher, a woman who knows just how to create a safe place for timid souls to discover their inner adventurer and artist, Stephanie Jenkins. 

Holding you in care and contemplation,
Cissy Brady-Rogers


The wide expanse of sky
echoes your own heart’s desire
and you glimpse for
a clear moment
the wings of your own soul soaring.

It is time to stop
tinkering with borrowed dreams
that you wear like an
Ill-fitting dress
stiff-collared, pleated skirt
your arms limited
by taffeta sleeves.

It is time to shed the layers
and slip into
your own luminous skin.
Tentatively, at first,
you begin to disrobe.
Cantankerous voices mutter
your behavior is offensive,
oblique. As you persist
in your unraveling
of thread and fiber,
buttons and lace
the rumble turns
to shouting
Angry venom bubbles over.
Poison eyes, clenched fists.

But you are fully naked now,
not a shred of the old dress left.
the voices are lost
in the rush of wind,
and you realize
you are flying.

A poem by Stephanie Jenkins, Labor Day 2014
Originally posted at 

In addition to serving on the AWW leadership team as Curator of Aesthetics and Program Content, Stephanie is a creative contemplative with a passion for discovering the sacred in art and nature. Recently she's been investing her energies creating  Field Guides for the Way - seasonal spiritual practice kits that invite you to journey deeper into your relationship with God, your own heart, your life. Check out the website for more.

Stephanie Warner Jenkins

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