When I look in the mirror now, I see someone I really like. The inside. The outside. When I see her and love her, I can then look deeply at the good, the bad, the ugly. I can see the faults and where the work needs to be done. I let God show me, with gentleness, where I need to be honest with myself. But first, I have to approach from the place of loving myself; of fully embracing my identity as beloved. From there, I can move into the harder spaces. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, even when I don’t want to look. This is what creativity does for me.
I know I don’t often expound on theological concepts in this space, but I am a seminary grad and something has been rattling through my mind over the past few months, so I’m going to wrestle it out here.
Many of us have been taught that in the beginning, before the start of the world, there was nothingness. That the universe was a blank space. A void. But if we look a bit more deeply at Scripture, especially at Hebrew Scripture, we see something different.
Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary:
1:1 When God was about to create heaven and earth, (2) the earth was a chaos, unformed, and on the chaotic waters’ face there was darkness. Then God’s spirit glided over the face of the waters, (3) and God said, “Let there be light” –and there was light.”
In the beginning, what existed in the world before God got involved was chaos. This alone gives me a deep moment to reflect. In the seasons of my life where I’ve given God no space and there has been chaos and confusion it’s been like an old tv set that goes fuzzy grey and makes that awful static noise. No frequency to get any sort of clear picture or direction.
When we look at this translation from the Torah, the word ruach is the Hebrew word for what we know as God’s Spirit. The text says that God’s ruach was hovering over the chaos.
In other words, the ruach of God is the invisible animating energy of God.
The Spirit of God is near to the chaos in the beginning. Hovering over it.
I love that picture.
I have walked through so many seasons of chaos when I knew God was near but I just couldn’t get still enough or quiet enough to tune in.
When I found contemplative practices, the tuning in became easier.
When I coupled those contemplative practices with creativity, the tuning in became life-giving!
Back to the text.
God speaks: “Let there be light” and it is so.
God’s ruach–this invisible, animating energy–creates order and we get day, night, land, sky, seas, etc.
The ruach of God creates order out of chaos.
The freedom work that we are each invited into as creatives is also the work of creating order out of chaos. The God who created with the ruach gave us a micro-imprint of this creative energy. When we create intentionally, we engage in freedom work because we begin to create order out of the chaos in our lives, within us, in the outside world, in our relationships, in our mindset, in every area of our lives.
Julia Cameron calls GOD … Good Orderly Direction. You may not agree with this definition. You may find it too tidy and not tied enough into the Judeo-Christian idea of Yahweh. But if, for a moment, you can suspend judgment and concern, I’d love to invite you to think about this as a sub-definition of God.
If the Spirit of God moves over our chaos, is that ruach an energy of invitation to move towards order and out of the chaos of our own lives?
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, who found God in the 12-step program of AA would say “yes”!
Engaging with our creativity engages the inherent God-given imprint of this ruach of God.
We feel it when we create, don’t we?
Maybe we call it inspiration or a muse or a divine download.
I would posit that when we engage our creativity, we are actually engaging the “ruach” of God and inviting God’s Spirit to bring order out of chaos. “Deep calls out to deep.” Through creativity, the spirit placed within us by God’s own breath (which is the same word in Hebrew … “ruach”) is connected with God’s creative animating force (ruach) and that is the kiss of divinity we feel when we create.
Now here is where I’m going to get a bit more pointed. For those of us who feel called to creative expressions as an extension of our spirituality and faith, there is a beautiful invitation to debunk the myth of the broken, shamed, dark, brooding artist who makes art from chaos and chaos from art.
Yes, the art takes us into dark spaces, but not with the intention of leaving us there.
If we stay in the chaos, we lose the beautiful invitation to stand in our divine imprint and lasso the energy of the ruach of God that invites us to create order out of our chaos, not let the chaos take us under.
It’s my deep and sincere hope to see a generation of women creating for health, for longevity, for mental health, for communal health. A generation shining light in dark places. Going into the broken stories of their own and other’s lives, because we are carrying the ruach of God to share light and bring order. Not to put the broken places on a pedestal, but to help people hold the tension of being both broken and beloved/beautiful.
When we create from this place, being led and filled and held by the ruach of God, we can look at the dark places of our own souls. We can hold the tension of being fully beloved and fully, humanly hot messes.
Being beloved gives us a platform to look honestly at the hard places. Being beloved helps us invite the ruach of God to search us and remind us of the inherent worth God has placed within each of us.
Creativity is an entry point into this work! And then, for many of us, it becomes the work itself.
So what is creativity?
Creativity is the birthright. Creativity is an inherent pathway to freedom.
How will you choose to engage with it today?