Breathing Space: Creativity

Submitted by Victoria on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - 12:17

The second blog of our Lent series looks at an essential part of our nature which is often under-valued.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but creativity isn’t something that’s valued all that much. Bottled sauces, exceedingly good cakes and noodles in pots are all part of a flourishing market which defines cooking as time-consuming drudgery. I know many inspirational older ladies who were dressmakers in their youth, making clothes for their friends and family. I, quite frankly, would not know where to start if someone asked me to make a beanie hat, let alone a ball gown. The idea of sitting down to make greetings cards, paint pictures, write poems and stories or come up with a new tune often seems, at least to me, like a luxurious fantasy. A culture obsessed with time pressure slowly squeezes out creativity by labelling it as unnecessary or even boring.

But when I do actually take the time to paint or cook (I’m not by any stretch of the imagination a poet nor a composer), I feel nourished and rested in a way which I don’t encounter by any other means. Which, when I think about it, isn’t particularly surprising. If we are made in the image of God, then we are intrinsically creators, creative beings. We are made to create.  

Creation doesn’t have to mean poetry or baking – I sometimes feel a little intimidated by wonderfully ‘creative types’ who find producing poetic masterpieces and culinary creations easier than breathing. Creation is simply bringing something – anything – good and new into being. It doesn’t even have to be tangible – it can be a new, honest thought.

I have felt particularly challenged about this in relation to prayer. So often, I find myself repeating the same formulas in my prayers because I feel too pushed for time to think of new thoughts or to find the words for the things that I really need to pray about. It’s not about using liturgy and set prayers or not – I personally find these very helpful. But, whether I’m following a structure or seeking my own words, I find that prayer is so much more powerful when I allow (or compel!) myself to think deeply, to come to new realisations and to express myself fully to God.  Jesus often sought some time alone to pray, and I am sure that during his temptation in the wilderness, prayer occupied much of his time. And whenever we are given a glimpse of Jesus’s prayers, what is immediately apparent is that he is expressing his innermost self through his words – what better example of true creativity?

But, whatever our creative gifts are or are not, one thing is clear: to be creative we need to dedicate time to creation. Time when we are not tweeting, or browsing or whatsapping. Time is limited, of course (and let’s face it - I’m not going to be making my own ketchup or dresses any time soon), but my challenge to myself is to try and create 45 minutes of breathing space on as many days as I can, to be creative. I’m going to put my paints somewhere I can access them easily. I’m going to try and express myself fully when I pray. I’m going to remind myself that time spent creating is not wasted time. Let’s see what happens…

Tags: lent resourcesprayercreativity