In the Interim: Reverend Terry Sweetser

In May we ponder what it means to be a people of creativity. We ask ourselves what we dare and how we can help each other, to live the lives we wish we could. Creativity is about, and this is our message for the month, creativity is about dreaming into reality what needs to be done for love.

Creativity is our ability to dream things up and make them happen. — Peggy Taylor

We’re all familiar with that part in the quote about dreaming. Conjuring up new ideas and images is what creativity is all about. Using the building blocks of “what is,” we -almost magically- make the “not yet” appear in our minds. But what about that other part? The part about “making them happen.” 

When we talk about creativity, that half of the equation often gets short shrift. We celebrate the fun piece about dreaming and leave off the hard piece of making our imaginings real. And it’s not just the hard part; it’s the scary part too. You have to be brave to try new things and fail. Being creative and unique can cause the crowd to cheer and swoon; it can also lead to being laughed at and excluded from the group. 

Yes, there is joy, beauty and play in creativity, but there is also insecurity, loneliness and self-doubt. Which means that this month is not just about imagination, artistry and self-expression, but also courage. Once that’s in view, it’s clear that we also need to talk about “co-creativity” this month as well.

Something as daring as creativity is dangerous if we try to do it alone. Indeed, where did we get the silly idea that artists and inventors are isolated, independent geniuses? When it comes to myths about creativity, that one tops the list. We need to remind each other that there is no such thing as a “person of creativity,” only “people of creativity.” 

The Bible talks of the Holy Spirit appearing when “two or more are gathered.” The same rule applies to the creative spirit! For instance, new ideas come from the clash of debate. New art emerges only after inspiration from those who’ve gone before. Better forms of community are built on the back of those who have toiled and sacrificed long before we put ourselves on the line. 

Simply put, there are no creators without companions. It’s all a way of reminding us that the secret to creative self-expression is staying connected to each other. Those sacred sources of inspiration inside us – our imagination, unique voice and inner muses – are like wild animals; they are hungry to run free but are also shy and easily scared away. 

They want to come out and play but will only do so when coaxed and cared for by the inspiration and support of others. So, in the end, maybe the most important question this month is not just “What do you want to create?” but also “Who are your partners?” With gratitude for all our sources of creativity – those within us and those all around us – let us begin.

Resources:

Word Roots: Creativity comes from the Latin term creō: to create, make. Synonyms include: inventiveness, imagination, innovation, innovativeness, originality, individuality; artistry, inspiration, vision; enterprise, initiative, resourcefulness

Wise Words: 

Creativity is intelligence having fun.  George Scialabba

All the arts we practice are apprenticeship. The big art is our life.  M.C. Richards

Remember that you are an artist, regardless of how constantly the world will try to drive it out of you or how a "real job" will try to bury the part of you. Whether it's with food, or building robots, you will know your medium the instant you realize how in love you are with what it brings out of you.  Shane Koyczan

I invented this rule for myself to be applied to every decision I might have to make in the future. I would sort out all the arguments and see which belonged to fear and which to creativeness, and other things being equal I would make the decision which had the larger number of creative reasons on its side. I think it must be a rule something like this that makes jonquils and crocuses come pushing through cold mud.  Katharine Butler Hathaway

The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.  Mary Oliver

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.  The Gospel of Thomas

If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces.  Shane Koyczan

If we don't find a way to transform our pain, we will always transmit it to those around us or turn it against ourselves… If your religion is not teaching you how to recognize, hold, and transform suffering, it is junk religion.  Fr. Richard Rohr

Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.  Pablo Picasso

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.  Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The war of an artist with [their] society is a lover’s war, and [they] do, at [their] best, what lovers do, which is to reveal the beloved to [themselves] and, with that revelation, to make freedom real.  James Baldwin

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.  Maya Angelou