Veni, Creator Spiritus: finding creative inspiration and spiritual comfort in the Holy Spirit

Finding creative inspiration and spiritual comfort in the Holy Spirit by Timothy Sherlock, ACU Choir Coordinator

As a composer of choral music, I have always found rich inspiration in the beauty and majesty of the natural world, and holidays to new places have regularly provided fertile ground for my composing. Walks along the pristine beaches surrounding Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island, snorkelling amongst brightly-coloured fish on remote Lord Howe Island, and encounters with cassowaries in the Daintree Rainforest in far North Queensland have all provided creative inspiration where the lyrics and music have flowed freely to result in choral works entitled Serenity, Colours and You’d Best Be Wary of the Cassowary!

The recent supermoon event provided me with another inspiration opportunity. I stepped outside to feel the Autumn chill on a cloudless night and was immediately struck by the power and majesty of the huge moon dominating the Brisbane skyline. Without thinking, I uttered words reflecting what I saw.

… beautiful moon, shining so bright, lift my spirit into the night…

These simple words quickly became the first sketches of a piece of music that I now know I will teach and perform at an upcoming choral workshop for middle school students. This composing process happened to occur in the week marking the tenth anniversary of the sudden death of my mother. As I gazed at the supermoon, I recalled the sorrow-filled days after her passing. I remember looking into the night sky and sending out little messages of love and sorrow, as though I was casting out hopeful messages in tiny bottles into a vast ocean of stars.

… I am the lonely watcher of the skies… I search the stars in the stillness of the night…

It made me reflect on the universal human experience of grief and loss and specifically, the visceral human need to comfort ourselves in the belief that our loved ones are experiencing eternal rest and that ultimately, we will be united once more in God’s love. Many grieving people report the comfort they feel when experiencing little signs in the natural world that remind them of their connection to those that have passed: unexplained electrical events, fragrance in the air, sighting of insects or birds, found objects, and in dreams.

… send me a sign that love still endures: butterfly, dragonfly, red robin at my door.

… I can feel you near, even in my dreams.

In this week of both creative inspiration and remembrance, I have reflected on my belief that the Holy Spirit is everywhere and in all things: expressed in the beauty and majesty of the natural world, reflected in the treasures of the cosmos, igniting opportunities for creative inspiration and curating those special connections between us and our loved ones.

Timothy Sherlock is a choral and handbell conductor and composer. He directs the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) Choir, the Children’s Health Queensland Community Choir and the All Hallows’ School Handbell Ensemble. From 2012 – 2015, Timothy was the co-director of the Gallipoli Choir, convened by the Australian Government for the WW1 centenary commemorations in Gallipoli, Turkey. Timothy is also the conductor of the ACU Choir in Brisbane and the national Choir Coordinator for the University. He fervently believes in the power of choral singing to develop musical skills and knowledge and to build a sense of community.

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