During Lent here at Suburban Presbyterian Church, we are exploring the creative and liturgical arts, with classes and speakers dealing with storytelling, iconography, dance, visual art, writing, and so on. The theme is “A Beautiful Thing,” inspired by the story of the woman anointing Jesus and his declaration that “She has done a beautiful thing for me.” (Mark 14, NIV)We are working on the notion that everything we do can be considered a beautiful thing–a creative offering to God–whether it’s gardening or scrapbooking or accounting or sorting clothes at the clothes closet or child-rearing. And so:
1. Would you call yourself “creative”? Why or why not?
Yes, I would call myself creative, and I think that every human being is creative. I believe that part of being made in the image of God is that God imbues us with creativity – allows us to be co-creators of the universe with God. I also believe that we tend to downplay our creativity – more especially in the last couple centuries than before – as we get older and feel we have to be rational, mature, professional grown-ups. Well, you know what? It sucks to be a rational, mature, professional grown-up all the time, and I think that the suckitude comes in because it is against our divinely created human nature. God wants us to be creative; God aches for us to create beauty. A question: have you ever encountered somebody who is incredibly difficult to love? And then at some point, after you’ve struggled with this difficulty, that person creates something beautiful – not necessarily a piece of art, possibly a story about their children or a gorgeous snapshot or even a particularly elegant spreadsheet or Powerpoint – and you feel an amazing swell of love? I think that’s God, pointing out our innate creativity, and saying, “See? I gave you this to help you love each other, as I love you.”
Okay, so maybe that’s a little goofy. But I also took a course in creative thinking and problem-solving last month, and it was excellent. The professor made the same point – that children are very creative, but that we tend to place little value on creativity in Western schools and workplaces, and those muscles atrophy so that we believe we are not creative. We just need to find ways to intentionally exercise our creative muscles.
2. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you currently do that you’d like to develop further.
Hee hee. This will be really goofy. While passing the time on the bus between Disney World and our hotel on our recent trip, my kids and I started a contest to see who could come up with most absolutely dreadful haiku. We came up with some truly terrible ones! A week later, while driving home from a volunteer shift, my daughter and I started composing more awful haiku in the car together – it was a wonderful shared experience; we laughed so hard! So that night, I set up this blog and invited a bunch of family members to contribute truly bad haiku. We use pictures, movies, and words of the day to inspire us to new heights of dreadfulness. It is wonderful creative fun, and a great outlet when I’m having a lousy rotten stinky crappy day. I mean, what’s better than taking your lousy rotten stinky crappy day and turning it into a lousy – and funny! – piece of poetry? I hope we can keep up with the creative fun, because it’s really been healthy for me.
3. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you have never done but would like to try.
Hmm… there are lots of creative pursuits that I’ve tried, but just not had the time or energy to get to be any good at them. I think I’d like to try being a bonsai artist, but I have the Black Thumb of Death when it comes to plants. (I have actually managed to kill an air fern.)
4. Complete this sentence: “I am in awe of people who can _____________.”
Sew and knit and crochet and do needlepoint and cross-stitch and embroidery. I just have no patience for the fiber arts. I can gum up the works of a sewing machine just by being in the same room with it. My mom has made some gorgeous pieces – needlepoint and cross-stitch and embroidery – and they just amaze me.
5. Share about a person who has encouraged your creativity, who has “called you to your best self.”
Actually, I try to surround myself with people who are positive and encouraging. I’m having a hard time picking out any one single person, because there are many who have played this role for me, and who continue to do so. I may come back to this one later, after I’ve let it percolate in my heart for a while.