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About Clarence Heller

Like many, I experienced an adolescence of insecurity with feelings of inadequacy. As I entered adulthood, I compensated for these feelings by throwing myself into work and sacrificing time with my family. Relentlessly trying to prove to others (and to myself) that I was good enough, my competitiveness and ambition brought me success in careers in engineering, and later business.

And when all memory of me has passed away,
still I will know,
still I will know,
that I always was,
and I always will be,
a part of God.

At the age of forty-five, I wanted to change my life and I decided to retire and study theology. I was raised Roman Catholic, but my spiritual life was shallow. During my first year of studies at the Aquinas Institute of Theology, I began receiving the counsel of a spiritual director and participated in The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola (the Nineteenth Annotation). It was then that my life and my relationship with God changed profoundly.

I first started writing poems when I was courting my wife, but this expression of my creativity soon became dormant. During a prayer session in 2003 (two years after retirement), my urge to write poetry returned. Since then, more than three hundred poems, prayers, and reflections have come to me.

Clarence in the gardenI am not so much an author or artist as I am a pray-er. The process of writing occurs in the context of prayer, most often during a block of time I have intentionally set aside to pray. When I am moved to write, it always starts with a word or two that opens the door to a sacred space, and then I pick up my pen and write in my notebook. The best way I can describe the process of this holy writing is that it is like romantic kissing: I lose track of where I stop and where the Other begins. It is an interactive process. It is an act of welcoming and surrendering, giving and receiving.

Before beginning each painting, I surrender all of myself to God and ask God to say to me whatever God wishes through the painting. I ask to be able to tell God what is deep inside myself through the painting. I use my non-dominant hand to finger paint, with the hope of letting go even further any perceived control I may have. And I lose myself. It is a process of non-thinking, nonverbal, emotional, authentic expression in which the colors choose themselves and, as with the writing, I am often surprised at what appears on the paper. It is a being and doing with God.

Everyday Sacred is a work born out of love for God and the beauty of everyday life. I hope you enjoy experiencing it as much as I enjoyed creating it.