This morning there is much to share – lots of creative juices flowing which is very much in keeping with the theme of today’s spiritual practice.
First I am in busy preparation mode for upcoming events which you might like to check out.
I will be speaking at the West Coast Healthcare Missions and Ministry Conference in Pasadena CA September 17 – 19
Also getting ready for Mustard Seed Associates Wild Camano Forest tour September 26th.
Tom and I head out for Australia September 29th. If you are interested in connecting we will be at:
Intensives (a week each) at Worldview Centre for Intercultural Studies Tasmania
Tom will speak on Joining the New Conspirators in the Shadow of the Empire
My topic Spiritual Rhythms for Everyday Life in a Hectic World
Another intensive at Tabor College Adelaide
So all of that as preamble to the latest in What is a Spiritual Practice from John Chandler – The Spirituality of Creating. John is a pastor in Austin Texas. He blogs at Some Strange Ideas
Most of my life, I’ve been been stuck with one consistent label. Whether teachers, family, friends, or those who just didn’t know what to do with me, I was told I was “creative”. Of course I like to be called…if feels cool. But in recent years, I’m learning that it is one thing to be called creative and it is another thing entirely to be creative. It’s hard work to create something.
And why is it hard?
Because to create, to make something, is a spiritual practice.
A few years ago, good friends were visiting us while we lived in Seattle. To enjoy the time them and share the beauty of the Pacific NW, we took a drive across Whidbey Island. On our drive we settled into a discussion of what it means to be made in the image of God. As I took in the beautiful scenery sweeping past the windows of our minivan, I came to a realization that had never occurred to me before…
To be made in the image of God is to be made a creative being. I had always considered that being made in the image of God means that we have the core characteristics of God’s image imprinted on our soul, no matter how broken we may be. Every human shares God’s need to give and receive love, compassion, pleasure and relationship. Likewise, a person who makes, who creates, is a human who is straining into the image of God that sits in their soul.
Now you might have realized long ago that to be creative is to exercise the image of God within. But for me, it was a fresh, important, and empowering shift in how I view my “creative” label. It was not just who I was, but who I am meant to be. And whether or not you’ve been told you’re creative, it’s who you were made to be as well.
The Creator was the first creative, and that first act of creating was an expression of love. NT Wright describes it this way: The creation of the world was the free outpouring of God’s powerful love. The one true God made a world that was other than himself, because that is what love delights to do.
And every creative act since, in it’s most pure form, is an act of love. It is a gift to others, an invitation to life and goodness. The strokes of a pen, the dabs of paint, the strums of a guitar — any act of creativity is a partnering with God in re-creation. In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott penned these words about the beauty, and the difficulty, of writing. But I think you could translate her words to any creative expression:
You are going to have to give and give and give and give, or there’s no reason for you to be writing. You have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward. There is no cosmic importance to your getting something published, but there is in learning to be a giver.
The compulsion I feel, and you feel, to make something new is crying out from the core of our humanity. It is calling you to give yourself for the benefit of others. And that is why it is hard, and why sometimes you feel blocked. The part of you that is broken, the part of you that only wants to be concerned about the protection of self, is trying to hold back who God created you to be. You bear the image of the Creator.