Most of us enjoy having companions on our spiritual journeys — a friend, partner, spiritual director, or community. They support us, hold us to account on our commitments, encourage us to try new practices, pass along wisdom, and inspire us by their example.

The arts are another kind of companion for spiritual journeys. Think of the times when you have used a piece of music to sooth your soul and give you the courage to carry on. Think of photographs, paintings, or sculptures that have stopped you in your tracks, giving you a wonder pause or causing you to consider a new perspective.

The arts shed light on the human condition and demonstrate ways in which creativity is an essential spiritual gift. They express our yearnings for a richer and deeper life. They open the doors to meaning understood by our minds and knowing felt through our senses. They give our imaginations a workout.

This trinity of art, photography, and music are champions of freedom and justice; in their own ways, they speak truth to power. Visiting an art gallery immerses us in a realm that speaks to our soul about beauty, love, and hope. Looking at a photograph of a street person arouses our empathy and compassion; nature photographs elicit our reverence and our determination to protect the earth. Listening to music elevates our consciousness, reminding us of what is truly important to us.

We've written more about the spirituality of art, photography, and music. In the Arts section of Spirituality & Practice, we will highlight the best resources on the arts and practices for working with them so they can become treasured companions on your spiritual journeys as well.