Cultivating our Creativity as a Spiritual Practice

 In Inspiration, Up

Spiritual practices facilitate encounters with God. Scripture teaches us that God is always with us. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God;” and Matthew 28:20 says, “And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” But, if we aren’t alert and oriented to look for and hear from God through a spiritual practice, we may miss the divine encounter and presence. Creativity is the process of bringing something new into existence.

This is how Genesis begins as it tells us “the earth was formless and void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters”… and God spoke the world into existence. Our spiritual journey is also a creative process; it is mysterious and has unexpected turns that brings newness of life.

Think of times you have been surprised by God, and in the same way have been surprised by something you’ve created. I’ve always loved to be creative and make something new, but I’ve never seen myself as an artist. Upon reflection about the things I’ve created in my life, I feel a sense of delight, fulfillment, pride, accomplishment and an empowerment from God’s presence in my creativity.

Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

In an interview with the New York Times, March 1938, Walt Disney says, “Over at our place, we’re sure of just one thing: everybody in the world was once a child. So in planning a new picture, we don’t think of grown-ups, and we don’t think of children, but just of that fine, clean, unspoiled spot down deep in every one of us that maybe the world has made us forget and that maybe our pictures can help recall.”

The spiritual practice of creativity can help us recall our inner child as an artist. Jesus welcomed and blessed children and said, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs…whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14-15). Think of how your creativity emerged as a child. Has it continued to grow or could you nurture that creativity more today as a way of being open to God’s work in and through you?

Julia Cameron includes in her book, The Artist Way, 10 basic principles on which creative recovery and discovery can be made. She states that, “When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the Creator’s creativity within us and our lives; and that creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back to God.” She also has a list of 20 creative affirmations that have increased my awareness of how nurturing my creativity is spiritual practice. Here are a few of these affirmations:

“I am a channel for God’s Creativity, and my work comes to good; my creativity heals myself and others; through the use of my creativity, I serve God; as I listen to my creativity I am led to my Creator.”

One of the ways I nurture my creativity is through an Artist Way group and using the basic tools from the book of taking myself on a weekly artist date and writing 3 pages of stream of conscious writing each morning. We recently began a new Artist Way group on Tuesdays, 2-3:30, in the chapel, on March 20th. There is still time to join. Let me know if you are interested in this 12 week group to nurture your creativity as a spiritual practice.

Here are some examples of the spiritual creative processes in some of the staff at Prince of Peace:

“Over the years I’ve made dozens of afghans, hundreds of pairs of mittens, among other projects. Crocheting and knitting gives me quiet reflective time. I love putting together colors, creating patterns and the feeling of accomplishment when a project is finished. I think about the recipient when I make things for someone specific, and that makes my craftwork even that much more enjoyable.” Jane Victorey

‘One of my favorite parts of my position here at POP is that I have ample opportunity to be creative. I feel it is not only a special gift but a calling. Whether it is writing a message, a song or making a video I get to use my imagination. Artistic inspiration combined with today’s needs in our society help me to innovate in a way that, hopefully, makes a Kingdom difference for someone. For me, this often finds its way in the form of music. What nourishes my creativity is… listening to God, observing others gifts and being aware that all of my creativeness comes from the Creator.” Swen

“I love to create meals. I can get lost reading through cookbooks or looking at cooking apps on the internet. When I find something I want to make I enjoy shopping for the ingredients and preparing the dish. And then, of course, I love dining on the ‘creation’.” Pastor Sandy

My work week includes designing most of the “stuff” you see around POP – website and social media graphics, posters, announcement screens, handouts, t-shirts for camps and musicals, and so much more! And while all of this is highly creative work that I love doing, I view it as my job and not a personal creative outlet. So what energizes me and brings me joy? The 3 main things are working out, quality time with my family, and outdoor adventures. And every once in a while I design personal projects for my family like birthday invites for my kids or calendars for Christmas gifts. I nourish my creativity and recharge by listening to music, reading design blogs and novels, meditating, and just turning my brain off and watching more reality TV than I’d care to admit 😉 Liz Ridpath

Discovering or recovering our creative selves as a spiritual practice is a “sky is the limit” kind of way to understand and experience the words from John 10:10 when Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and to have it abundantly.” So I close with this prayer from Paul which is written in Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Jody Slaughter is the Spiritual Care Minister at Prince of Peace.

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