How often do you hear someone say, “Well I’m not a creative person”?
Or are you the one saying it?
Somehow I think American culture in particular has created a division between creative folks and normal folks. It seems to start early and get reinforced consistently to the point where most of us approach whatever artistic impulse is within us shamefully – especially true with men though women are not immune.
This is really damaging. Watch a young child for even a few minutes and you’ll see imagination oozing out of her. Social science researchers like Brené Brown remind us regularly that humanity is creative. Expression, art, and imagination bring us joy and help us process grief and pain. We all know this as consumers. We have our particular songs or even TV episodes we return to in particular seasons. But we don’t know it as participants.
Of course, not everyone will end up making a living off of artistic pursuits. I don’t. I work for a corporation where my primary task is to make certain operations more efficient utilizing technical solutions where appropriate. This is creative in a way which I enjoy, but it doesn’t really bring expression to my emotional experience.
For a couple months, I’ve been attending a class at my church taught by my pastor called “Constructive Theology.” I’ve really enjoyed it partially for some of the material she had us read but mostly because everyone who attended was an active participant.
The last few years I’ve been in a faith transition. I got to share that with the class. It was holy ground. The final component of the class was a creative project about our faith lives. One woman made a small prayer garden. One man composed a communion liturgy in which we participated. One man brought a rose he was about to plant on the church grounds. It was lovely.
I wondered how long it had been since each of us had pondered how to express creatively our faith journeys or really any deep personal experiences. I wrote a poem about my faith journey of the last few years. I will share it below, but I want to challenge you to find a creative expression. You don’t have to share it online. You don’t have to share it at all. Do it for your own enjoyment or catharsis. It doesn’t have to be writing or painting or anything we typically consider artistic. Perhaps it’s gardening or cooking or working on a car. Just something that brings you joy and grounds you in your experience. If you’ve reinforced for a long time that you’re not a creative person, call that impulse what it is – a lie. You are creative. You are imaginative. You are human.
Without further adieu, here’s what I wrote.
What I Believe
I didn’t know what I believed
I lost my compass or discovered its lies
Walking without destination
Meditating without focus or lens.
The earth shook and the chasm opened
The face and voice of evil heard
But who speaks the holy?
Whose smile brings light?
Questions persist as life lived
Reflections of beauty and grace there when I look
Enough to go on and turn my gaze
We resemble what we love.
Perhaps what’s behind will not resolve
Forever dissonant this song
Perhaps without writer – only players
But I know the song that brings dance.
Did we write it? Is it magic?
Does it matter where it comes from?
Or only where it’s going?
Or is the motion the magic?
I don’t know what I believe
I deceive myself with refined skill
Rage rises within and surprises me
I call myself in for questioning.
Loss hurt love and joy
I can only nurture not choose
Meaning is embodied not inscribed
Presence more courageous than resolve.
I shook and a chasm opened
The face and voice of evil and holy
They speak with my voice and lips
They are the sea and wind about my ship.
Tending grace and grief brings life
I hope to know what I say I believe.