According to Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev, God created the world by imagination, yet for many of us imagination and creativity are rarely associated with our faith. Our playful imaginative selves often get buried in the adult world where we are encouraged to get a job, find a partner become responsible citizens. Yet God’s creative energy is still alive and well. In Isaiah 48: 6-7 we read: “I am telling you new things, secrets hidden that no one has known. They are created now — brand new, never before announced, never before heard.”
In the past 10 years, my faith has been enriched, inspired and nurtured by creative exploration which believe it is this power of God’s Holy Spirit within me, creating new, never-before-announced things. I wanted to share some of what I have learned with you.
Creativity begins in silence — not the silence of an absence of noise, but the silence of a soul at rest, an internal intentional attentiveness toward God. This silence makes space for, and takes time for the One who desires our full attention. Yet it is hard to enter this silence. So much distracts us.
I love begin each day by sitting in my sacred space each morning, quieting my soul, drinking in the wonder of eternal presence. Sometimes I just take a few deep breaths in and out. At other times I read a centering or breathing prayer. Or I might look out my window and contemplate the beauty of God’s creation around me. At other times I read a scripture or a selection from a devotional book. This slows my heart and soul to that I can attend to God.
Creativity takes notice of what resonates in your soul. In these quiet moments I often find that a word, a phrase or an image comes to mind. I sit still, allowing that thought or image to resonate and grow in my awareness. I give it my full attention until the image or word takes root in my soul. I sit with it for a while allowing it to grow and take shape.
Creativity finds expression in many ways. Most often, what stirs in my mind takes wings and the words flow freely until a prayer or a poem springs into life. At other times I write down the skeleton of a prayer, knowing that it needs to be refined and fleshed out. Sometimes the words prompt me to pick up a rock and some of my paint pens to create a decorated rock that can form the focus for my meditations over the next few weeks. Or I might be prompted to create a meditation garden or even just to pick flowers and arrange them in a vase. Whatever the creative impulse that stirs within us is, we should not limit it. This is not a time to feel self-conscious or embarrassed. Perhaps God is asking us to dance, or sing or laugh.
Creativity is an ongoing process. God continues to create, and so do we. No work of art, music or other form of creativity ever feel complete to the creator. As often happens, my prayers/poems, painted rocks and meditative gardens continue to be reshaped and revised, sometimes in response to the seasons of the year, or to life events. Sometimes my prayers are reshaped in response to my concerns for the world around me, or by my passion for sustainable living. The prayer above has taken several forms, been imposed on different photos, and been used in different settings. I always rejoice when it takes new shape.
Creativity has no rules. When I wrote my first liturgies, I asked a friend who had been doing this type of writing for years, what the rules for writing liturgies were. There are no rules, she told me. It was the best advice I ever had. Creativity has no bounds. Whatever we can imagine is fuel for creation. And it can be expressed in a million ways — words, images, material objects, even ideas are all creative expressions that spring from heart of God.
For me there are no rules to creative expression, except to listen in the presence of God, giving our whole attention to the eternal One who is always with us waiting to be heard.
Christine Sine is co-founder, along with her husband, Tom Sine, of Mustard Seed Associates, an organization to assist churches and Christian organizations to engage the challenges of the 21st century. She writes at Godspace, where this post originally appeared.