I like creative people and try to spend time every day with someone who is truly creative.
Sadly most days I don’t get the chance since, while many people love the idea of creativity, most are happy to simply re-arrange their favourite concepts and structures in re-framed personal and communal mission statements.
Remember the challenging quote from the young Italian holy man Carlo Acutis: We are all born as originals, yet most of us die as photocopies.
We fall into the trap of thinking that God created (past tense) the heavens and the earth and God created (past tense) you and me. So when we hear today’s first reading with God’s active present creativity we might get a bit nervous:
“Thus says the Lord: Now I create new heavens and a new earth”
“…Be glad and rejoice for ever and ever for what I am creating, because I now create…”
I heard someone comment once that the process of earthly and human evolution has, from the beginning of time, always progressed at the same rate. Their valid points was that in the biblical account of creation God was creating at the same pace as God is creating today.
That thought certainly shifts the way I think about earthquakes, climate change and pandemics.
Some of the world’s greatest creators encouraged new thinking with inspiring comments. “Creativity is intelligence having fun” (Einstein), or Steve Jobs “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”
Pope Francis is big on creativity too: “we need an apostolic creativity, a creativity shorn of so many useless things, but with a yearning to express our faith in community, as the people of God”.
And Pope Benedict was even more direct: “I would say that usually it is creative minorities who determine the future, and in this regard the Catholic Church must understand that she is a creative minority who has a heritage of values that are not things of the past, but a very lively and relevant reality. The Church must modernise, she must be present in the public debate, in our struggle for a true concept of freedom and peace”.
In the name of creativity people sometimes discard much of what has gone before, even seeking to live beyond order. However disregard for the wisdom and traditions of those who have gone before is not creativity but a disordered confusion that can soon become anarchy.
Perhaps this is a helpful consideration for the one who seeks to be creative: To break with all that has gone before is more likely to be a reaction and an escape than a creativity.
The creative composer will have spent time learning concepts of notes, chords and scales. Once thoroughly familiar with these tools of the musicians trade s/he is ready to create. Without basic musical knowledge the beginner might be able to invent a pleasant melody, but I certainly wouldn’t pay to hear it.
The same is true for creativity within institutions. In the traditions, teachings, practices and passions of people of faith we have a stable foundation for our enthusiasm to live as a creative minority.
Too often religious structures and spiritual disciplines have become, for good people, securities in themselves. We make the mistake of thinking we are growing spiritually because of our practices instead of by the intervention and undeserved loving action of a loving God.
We can fall into this trap with our well-intentioned Lenten disciplines, forgetting that perhaps the greatest obstacle to faith-filled and faith-fuelled creativity is rigidity of thought, word and deed.
All our rigidity and even our commitment cannot compare with (in the words’s of today’s psalm: a Lord who listens and has pity…
The Lord came to my help. For me you have changed my mourning into dancing: O Lord my God, I will thank you for ever.I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.”
- In what ways might you live creatively today? Invite Jesus to reveal possibilities to you.
- Thank you to all the FFF benefactors. It is a beautiful word: “The Latin roots of benefactor are bene, which means “well,” and facere, which means “to do” — literally, “to do well.” A benefactor does well by supporting (usually financially) a person or a good cause.” If you would like to become a benefactor of FFF please visit the SUPPORTING FFF page at this link.