My Path from Mother to Minister
by Rev. Donna Belt
Rev. Donna Belt
As I approach ordination, I think back on the path that has led me from seeing myself primarily in the roles of mother and creative explorer to stepping into my ministry of healing arts. Though I believe that each person forms a ministry perfect for their own voice and reflective of their unique life experiences, it can be empowering to see how others have found their way to a place of deepening.
I describe my process in the hope that you might be encouraged to consider what would provide the experiences that tell you that you’re in step with your calling.
My original idea was to use writing and art to inspire individuals in a group setting, allowing them to access their own intuitive paths to healing and wholeness. I offered a variety of workshops: from meditative writing, to discovering poetry through the serendipity of freely associated words, to collage, sculpture, visual journaling, Touch Drawing and finally intuitive painting. I later added a dreamwork series, the result of my ongoing work with a grieving group from a local spiritual community. These activities have filled in the steps between a general sensing of the rightness of ministry for me when I started at CHI , to walking the earth as an interfaith minister.
When I started, I felt some anxiety about developing an approach that would address the needs of the clients I was serving—whether an individual, couple or group. What if they presented problems and I wouldn’t know what to offer them that would allow for hope and healing?
Artwork by Rev. Donna Belt
I’m grateful now for how through the months, I’ve learned to listen and observe deeply, allowing Spirit to speak through my mouth and see through my eyes. I’ve grown in being able to hold space for the divine perfection within each individual so that they can move toward their true essence. What I do isn’t anything that could have been pinned down in my early lesson plans or my efforts to research others’ methods. It’s something I feel inside, and I trust its healing light that shines through me.
So how did I move from my early questioning to the more centered place where I find myself now?
I learned from observing clients that the process of creativity holds its own power to heal. The written or crafted work carries within it a power akin to that of a guiding angel. My role is to provide a place of love and safety so that clients can dare to go deeply into their own sacred hearts to experience the peace that they find there. What they give form to in the creative process is a talisman of their journey that they can place on their altar at home, so that they can retrace their steps whenever they want to affirm their wholeness.
I realize that I am only part of a collective and sacred energy that is added to by everyone who participates in my workshops. People feel it even as they come in the door. There is a buoyancy and grace that lift whoever enters. I care for this energy, just in the way I sweep the floor and wash the paintbrushes at the end of workshops. I set intention at the beginning of every workshop, and I smudge to purify the space so that balance is maintained and honored. Most important, I empty myself of my own ego identity when I guide and reflect with clients, so that this beautiful, healing energy can flow through me.
Often, my clients give me new ideas for service. When some participants failed to show up for an all-day Touch Drawing workshop, I ended up working extensively with one married couple, who told me later that they went directly home and turned their master bedroom into an art studio. They declared that my workshop was the best relationship therapy they’d ever received. Their comments led me to do regular work with couples, which I’ve found to be exciting and rewarding.
Over the summer, I decided to encourage one regular participant to bring her son along with her to workshops. That has led me to offer weekly sessions for mothers with their children. I’ve loved observing the natural wisdom and insights of the children, as well as seeing how much they are able to teach the adults (including me!). This has also provided a beautiful means of communication between the generations.
Gaining my voice as a minister has come about gradually, almost as if I’ve been listening to a song I couldn’t quite make out in the beginning. I’ve recently written a grant proposal for a series of workshops for breast cancer patients, I look forward to focusing my ministry on arts and healing. This is the direction my interfaith ministry takes me.
May this be so.