IT STARTED WITH MY JOURNEY
The practice of painting entered my life in 2010 shortly after leaving a marketing role for a global consulting firm. About the same time, I also discovered Contemplative spirituality and Christian meditation. The practice of Centering Prayer and study of the early Christian mystics were soon guiding my painting sessions.
I’d set an intention, pick up a brush, and take the long journey from my head into my heart — over time, the artist in me blazed a trail from my heart into the Heart of Jesus.
More important, I noticed the journey engaged me in a daring level of self-awareness that was both uncomfortable and joyful. Holding the tension of opposites quickly became evident in the artistic process and spilled over into my life. It was not smooth, easy, or pretty, yet I continued to be drawn to it. Saying “yes” one encounter at a time transformed my way of seeing, the course of my life—and ultimately, my being.
Like a painting, transformation is never finished, but as Paul Gardner said, “It stops in interesting places.” In this way, my artwork bears witness to interesting places in my journey which—like yours—are at once uniquely personal, and entirely universal.
Early on, I described my artwork as sacramental (an outward sign of an inward grace); soon after, contemporary iconography came along. Both terms remind me of the aliveness of the imagery and its given work in the world.
IT CONTINUES WITH YOUR JOURNEY
My artwork is relational, inviting people into the depths of their own existence—into their own hearts.
That’s why I write invitational and open-ended reflections to go with the images and design experiences to companion exhibits.
When I created “Into Your Heart: A Creative Path to Healing & Wholeness” in 2018 to go with my “Deathless Beauty” exhibit, I knew it had life beyond the shows. It became a stand alone resource that is now used by individuals and groups around the world, and lit the path ahead for my vocation as an artist and retreat facilitator.
The original intent of “Into Your Heart” was to companion people in transition—especially through unwanted change beyond one’s control. I took pages from my own unwelcome circumstances, sharing insights that steadied me in accepting reality just as it was and connected me to my deeper identity.
The first section of the workbook “To Be Human” opens with an image of a divided heart and an exercise to unite it. At the time I wrote it, I had no idea how essential this idea was to the process of becoming whole. I recognized it, as others will, as an invitation to shadow work, but its larger significance was still unknown to me.
In 2022, receiving insights in the aftermath of the pandemic and facing into fragmentation which threatens the very future of our planet, I feel the call to wholeness is a global imperative—and I know I am not alone.
THE CALL TO WHOLENESS
When barriers caused by divisiveness are exposed and dissolved, new options arise and can be seen and embraced. This is widely agreed upon.
The challenge is that with all we can agree there is to gain by awakening to wholeness, it is our nature to see division over there and not in here. Unaware of the landscapes of our own divided hearts, the opposites we push away and project onto others, and the ways this limits us in relationships, we stand in the way of our own healing and powerful contributions.
While we can speak about unity and believe we are participating in creating it, we cannot embody it unless we go into our hearts and have a daring look around.
Most of us are reluctant to go there unless completely broken down.
Art experiences, I’ve learned, guide the inquiry into one’s heart in a way that lowers defenses and increases receptivity within a container of compassion.
This is the mission of Into Your Heart Art. It is not therapy or coaching, but one investment in a portfolio of investments that support a person’s fully showing up and contributing his or her gifts to work, family, leadership, and community.
Julie’s work is a dance between the word and images. She calls forth the words which lie underneath the usual words and coaxes images hidden deep in our psyches.
The Rev. Carolyn Metzler