As I reflect on Bronwyn and Jason’s blogs I echo their thoughts of what creativity can mean for the future of communities of faith, and most importantly how creative and adventurous communities of faith can transform the world in ways which complement how we move and have our being, and how we might choose to answer the call to be co-creators with God. So their words and a picture treasured by our colleague Valerie have caused me to reflect on this “Creativity” theme in a bit of a different way. I believe that in order for people to work together in community, to envision what the “church” might be, there must be space – a sacred space – safe for individuals to imagine and create. There needs to be a respectful exchange of ideas, with no ideas discarded, no ideas put in a box, unless of course it is for storage, put away like clothes pins in an old shoe box to be used at a later date anew.
When I as was a little girl my mother would hang our clothes outside on a line that stretched from a big old apple tree to a large hook attached to an old garage. My sister and I would run under the billowing sheets pretending that we were the cape-clad characters we read about in story books. Being the older sister she was always the princess. In the absence brothers I was always the knight. I might add I found knighting much more exciting than serving as a princess, and I acquired skills which came in very handy later in life. I remember at the end of laundry day I would enjoy what we called “clean sheet” night, when the smell of the clean crisp air would fill my senses as I laid my head upon my pillow. Clothes pins were toys that became people and planes and tools for digging in the dirt. At some point mechanical clothes driers became affordable and popular and clothes lines were no longer the purveyor of imaginary caped characters and clothes pins, and the sweet smell of cotton fresh air became available in spray bottles.
However clothes pins have been re-created, somewhere along the line (pun intended) someone thought how useful clothes pins might be as a means by which a child’s expression of art could be displayed. Now made out of colorful plastic the clothes pin is still celebrating children’s imaginations and creativity.
Last month a small gathering of faith formation specialists met at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific to imagine, create and re-create resources, initiatives and tools which congregations might use to implement the Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation; the Episcopal Church’s statement of faith formation grounded in scripture, tradition and reason. One of the groups working on “worship as formation” concluded that the liturgy of the word is one of many opportunities in our liturgical tradition where visual art might be used as means of interpretation.
This month at the New Community gathering in San Diego we invited Enedina Vasquez, an elder of our faith community, to be our artist in residence for the conference. Using her iPad the art work was instantly displayed on the large screen in the plenary room when the entire conference gathered. As she listened to the keynote speakers, workshop leaders, worship, and informal conversations she captured the essence of the thoughts, laughter, tears and imagination of the New Community at that unique moment in time, a moment that will never be repeated again in exactly the same way.
Creativity has no age, it does not skip a generation. As children we have an innocence of creativity and as elders we reach an age where fear of criticism is replaced by the joy and freedom to share the wisdom we have gathered along the journey, wisdom which has taught us that listening, true authentic, un-distracted listening is where the seeds of creativity can be found. I truly believe through creativity we can bridge the gaps between generations.
Let’s imagine for a moment the “Artwork Clothes Line” above adorned with the visual interpretations by artists of all ages representing the prophetic voices across generations.
What an exciting, fun way to become communities of faith which transform the world in ways which celebrate how we answer the call to be co-creators with God.
Original art by Enedina Vasquez, Ene-Art, San Antonio, TX, used with permission