Created Co-Creators

Our God is a most creative Artist.

From supernova galaxies billowing across the expanse of the cosmos to the extravagantly delicate flowers in a tucked away meadow that no one will ever see, He is the Creative one, the Master Enchanter.

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photo cred: Adam Milligan

Art is always an expression, an echo, a narrative of who the artist is. When our eyes are opened to  glimpse and receive the stunning Holy gallery we find ourselves dwelling in, we glimpse a picture of what He is like.  If He gifts us with being able to comprehend this, our gaze can extend beyond the beautiful thing, to the True Beauty.

It is with even more astonishing shock that we discover that we are the pinnacle of this artistry. The feature of his Art Exhibit. We are His workmanship- his poema as it is is beautifully written in the Greek. Yes- we are these wonderfully and fearfully made, intricate, living, breathing poems. Bearers of His image.

Though broken and inconsistent, we were created to be like Him. To reflect his nature.  And as created ones, we must create.  The impulse to be creative was written into our very DNA. Throughout the whole story of humanity, we have had this impulse, this hardwired desire to create.  It may manifest in different ways but oh how the painter must spread vibrant colors across the canvas, the musician must capture the song he hears echoing in creation, the photographer must capture the moment that speaks the Truth, and the writer must articulate the Great Story with honesty and eloquence.

IMG_5143As we, his Beloved Artwork echo back to him the Beauty he’s opened our eyes to, we give him Glory. We step into who we were meant to be. We are invited into the dance- to make, to shape, to dream, and turn whispers of worship into substance through what we create.

It is not easy work– but as we labor, we become agents of reenchantment. Restorers and subdoers of chaos.

The beautiful, broken, redeemed creation creates, restoring, healing beauty.

DSC_0451I wrote these thoughts about creativity last spring- at the invitation of my friend who was making a short film with that theme. It sprung to mind a couple of days ago with the same surprised delight of a forgotten favorite sweater lost in the back of your dresser drawers. Rereading them was such a good reminder of who I am and what I was created to do. What makes me feel alive– creating.

See, life has an uncanny way of bringing up recurring themes, and like the seasons, once the message comes that spring has arrived, I find myself in a symphony of blossoms, in the form of conversations, podcasts, books, and dreams- all echoing the same message that I need to hear.  I recently bought this book, The Artist’s Way on a whim. It is self described as “A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self.” The book was a familiar one to me, I had onced leafed through it and was struck by the poignant quotes in the margins, but when it was brought up in the lounge at work, it seemed like the right season in which to dive into this journey of awakening a deeper creativity.

I’m telling you this, dear reader, as I have become somewhat of a Creativity Evangelist these days. I can’t stop thinking about it, and my heart is overflowing to the point of wanting, needing to share it with those around me. It doesn’t feel so much as a quest to merely become a “better artist,” with the purpose of being able to produce a certain quality of work or be able to earn that label through vocation or or recognition. This pursuit of creativity feels more like a stepping into what it means to be fully human.

And so.

(eyebrows raised)

I’m welcoming you along for the journey. Maybe this is my disclaimer that over the course of the next 12(ish) weeks, let it be known that I am embarking on The Artist’s Way (and inviting you all along as well.)

I’m learning (again and for the first time) what it means to live as an artist, that is, to live as one fully alive. This a concept as broad and varied as the books that sit on the shelves at a bookstore- each story a vibrantly different plot line, and yet there are similar themes in each. Maybe there is really just one story told in a million different ways. Similarly, answering the call to be an artist will play out in a variety of ways, and yet each story echoes the heart of the Author.

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The In Between Places

I’m writing this on an airplane. Gently gliding 36,000 feet in the air, the sunrise glinting off the wings of this aluminum bird carrying me to adventure.

There’s something to be said about being in these in between places. I’ve left, but I haven’t arrived. I often get my best thinking done in transit.

I sit in quiet reverie,

partly looking back

partly gazing ahead

& partly rooted right here-

nowhere-

now here.

In transition.

Transitions have come so often in the last decade, that it has the familiarity of home. The unknown and vague expectations. The thrill of risk and the requirement of bravery, this I know.

I know God shows up and meets me sweetly in this space– the gap between the two trapeze.

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Transitions arrive with a heart wrenching mixture of uncertainty and hope. They mean vulnerability. They mean letting go and embracing. They mean waiting.

And waiting is hard.

This summer, I was on a flight, to meet up with my family for vacation. Our plane got stuck in a holding pattern, due to the severe weather. That was only after being stuck on the tarmac for three hours before taking flight. Then, rather than landing at O’Hare, we got rerouted to Indianapolis, where I waited in a line for five hours to get another flight. I got stuck in the in between place, in the longest day of travel ever.

In the waiting, I started out with a determined cheerfulness, submitting to the circumstances and making the best of it. Accepting the less than ideal situation, I preoccupied myself with reading, people watching, contemplating. All is well, all shall be well, I kept telling myself… And then the weight of impatience would slam down on me, unbidden. Like the stages of grief, I would cycle through denial (this isn’t so bad), anger (bursts of rage at the standstill line, bargaining (maybe if I go to the bathroom, the line will magically move 20 feet) to depression (this is the worst) and back to acceptance. Each time these bursts of frustration would find me more incredulous that I was still waiting. Still stuck in this holding pattern. Still betwixt.

Sometimes I get impatient with the season of apparently unending holding patterns, I fear I’m a permanent resident of this in between place, like Tom Hanks in Terminal.

Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for transitions. I don’t mind passing through them. On occasion. I have been shaped by these in between places. But God, I don’t want to be stuck there. I want transitions to occur on my own terms. I’d like them to happen efficiently, thank you very much.

And yet, I have to shake my head at my impulse to be in control. To eradicate uncertainty. I have lived through enough transitions to know that uncertainty isn’t the enemy. Fear is. That I won’t regret entering into the process, open eyes and brave enough to admit how scared I am. Over the last year, I have felt a deepening– an ability to remain in the tensions and acknowledging the complexities that reside in the in between places.

This in between place will end, just as this flight will descend. And there will be more in between places. And I don’t want to miss a single moment of it.