Sunday, April 29, 2018
Creativity as Spiritual Practice
"Creativity as Spiritual Practice" was recently offered at Christian Theological Seminary for the public to attend. The program was described as a "way to explore God's creativity and our creativity in God's image by reflecting on a scriptural text, using Lectio Divina, and explore creative outlets." Participants were asked to bring a few art supplies to use for their own expression.
I signed up for the hour-long class excited to explore the favorite areas of my walk with God, creativity and spirituality.
Preparing to attend, I gathered a notebook and a few pens. When I arrived, about twenty other people of varying ages were eager to share the experience.
"But I'm Not Creative!"
Many times I've heard people say , "I'm not creative. I can't do things like that" when it comes to putting together an expression of an experience. However, I found these words for those who believe they aren't creative in a copy of "Alive Now" July/August, 2013.
"Unless we are creators, we are not fully alive. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living." Madeleine L'Engle Walking on Water.
When the word, creativity, is mentioned, too often our minds go to famous artists, authors, composers and playwrights. However, as Jan Philips describes in "The 24-Hour Canvas" everyone is creative - it's how we respond to our lives each day.
"It is blasphemous for any of us to say 'I am not creative.' All we do is create. We have desires, and we create experiences from our desires. We have experiences and we create stories about these experiences. We hear the stories of others and we are moved to tell our own. We wake up every day to an empty canvas of twenty-four hours and every night we go to bed having created our master-piece for the day. We can do this consciously or unconsciously, but we all do it nevertheless." Jan Philips from No Ordinary Time - The Rise of Spiritual Intelligence and Evolutionary Creativity.
The Experience and My Response
Opening the program, the presenter noted the Genesis 1:1 reads, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," and God has been creating ever since.
She reviewed the steps for Lectio Divina or holy reading of scripture:
1. Preparing - deep breaths, praying, relaxing
2. Listening - for a word, phrase or image that calls to us
3. Meditating - repeating the word and acting
4. Responding - reflecting on how the word connects with us
5. Beholding - God's presence with a prayer of gratitude
The scripture for the day was Mark 14:3-9 where Jesus was sitting at a table in the home of Simon the leper. A woman came with an alabaster jar of a costly ointment and poured the ointment on Jesus' head.
We were asked to identify a word or phrase from the scripture that spoke to us and create a response. The question, "How does the word or phrase connect to my life" offered further reflection.
I focused on the words, "as he sat at the table." I thought how a table can be a gathering place in a home. It seemed natural for Jesus to be at a table where people could come and sit and talk for awhile.
My creative response to "at the table" was to tear a table from a piece of notebook paper (pictured above). The table held a loaf of bread. I also wrote this poem:
At the table, where we gather,
To talk, to eat,
We find Jesus,
Ready to listen or offer a thought,
And learn about our hearts.
Jesus gives love and compassion
In the midst of our day.
Bread on the table,
For the bread of life at the table.
After a few people shared their thoughts, we concluded our time with a prayer of gratitude by J. Philip Newell:
God of life, who chooses creation over chaos, and new beginnings over emptiness, we bring to you the disorder of our nations and world. Bless us and the nations with the grace of creativity. Amen.
Listening, watching and attentiveness are important for the creative process and for life with God. Next time you have some free time, choose a scripture, sit with the process of Lectio Divina and open your heart to God. What can you create with God's leading and direction?
Prayer: God, you have created everything that is in the world. Help us join with you as co-creators to bring new thoughts, perspectives, greetings or more tangible forms of creativity to share with others. Amen.