Signposts: Daily Devotions

Saturday, May 3

I hear censure that insults me, and a spirit beyond my understanding answers me.
—Job 20:3

Faced with a tough choice or problem, we frequently say that we need to “sleep on it” before deciding what to do. There’s no magic in this process, but in many cases it accomplishes what our conscious minds simply can’t: it gets us in touch with a knowledge deep within us. Creating some tangible expression of our inner journey—whether through art or music or some other practice, such as writing our spiritual autobiography—can accomplish much the same.

As novelist E.M. Forster once asked, “How can I know what I think ‘til I see what I say?” His question illustrates the importance creativity plays not just in individual self-expression, but also in our spiritual growth.

How do we gain a clearer sense of where we are in our relationship with God? How do we wrestle with disappointment and loss, and do so in a way that won’t destroy us? Friends can help us, of course, and so can prayer. The creations of our hands are, in fact, a kind of tangible prayer. They are one way of saying, “Here is where I am, God. I don’t know what to do next.”

Many of us find ourselves turning to this sort of spiritual expression during times of upheaval in our lives; we identify with the poet Dante when he writes, “In the middle of our life’s way, / I found myself in a dark wood / Where the right way was lost.”

Often, what we’re confronting is loss—the death of someone we love, a fractured relationship, a lost job, an awareness that our faith is out of sync with our lives. But even positive transitions can trigger a need for some kind of exploration. Opportunities, too, can leave us off balance. Creating something that reflects our spirituality is a means of getting our bearings again.

Just as family stories give us a sense of identity and belonging, our personal stories—whether told in words or colors or sounds—can help us discover not only where we are, but also where we might be going and what we need for the journey.

O God, when I am confused or overwhelmed by the changes I experience in life, keep me always focused on you as both my companion and my goal.

The Signposts for May are written by Susan Hanson and originally appeared on in September 2004.