I have a friend who writes poetry. I have laughed and cried while reading her poems. She inspires and moves me; the heartfelt beauty and economy of her words often leaves me without words.
I have another friend who sketches. Another friend can create amazing things in the kitchen with an instinct for which I have profound admiration. I have neighbours who paint in watercolours and my friend’s sister in law produces and sells breathtaking oils. An old friend at church revealed lately that she is a skilled artist. I have a painting of hers that brings me pleasure every time I look at it.
Other people I know knit and stitch, design greetings cards, sew cushion covers, create carpentry marvels from reclaimed wood, beautiful original jewellery, wall hangings and textiles, intricate original shoulder bags, soap, manage bees and make honey, produce jams and chutneys until the tables groan under the weight of the jars. It’s years since I have bought my marmalade anywhere else.
A friend across the sea creates scarves out of old T shirts, arranges beautiful new mantelpiece displays with the season changes and has a gift for inspiring photography. Today I saw a man who makes marvellous things out of glass and gold leaf. A lady who upholsters and restores. I saw lovely stained glass in a church I visited.
We create. We seem to have an instinct to create.
I’ve been thinking recently about your glory. The way I see you in the natural world – in flowers and sunsets and birds and the weather. The way you open my eyes to notice things that I might simply walk past. It struck me earlier that the people around me reflect you as well, and not just the people that I love. People have a desire to create. You gave that to us.
I’m sure that it doesn’t have to be arty/crafty type creating that we do; I know people who can welcome, who can reassure, who can create a warm and positive atmosphere just by being there. I know people who can choose words with such ease and inspiration that a chat with them is a blessing. I know people who can tell a story, sing, dance or make me laugh. They can take nothing and make it something. It’s creativity just the same.
We create. We make things. We produce. We are made to bear fruit; on many levels.
Not least the breathtaking piece of delegation that is having a baby. Creation indeed. Sometimes I stand with my husband and stare at our sleeping daughters and smile, ‘We made that!‘ How did we do that? How did we make something so precious, so beautiful, so perfect?
We are creative because we are made in your image and you are the Creator. A wise friend today suggested that we are co-creators in the world, as the world is something that you began but is not yet finished. You handed us the means to change things – to add to the world. To contribute. To make it different for having lived.
I love the idea that I might create something that changes the world slightly. Something that adds beauty, or inspiration. If someone smiles as a result of what I’ve done – and it doesn’t need to be anything monumental or eternal, just a fleeting smile of amusement or recognition or appreciation. A flicker of insight. A spark of an idea. A laugh. I know that nothing goes unnoticed by you, Lord – I know this because you created the crocuses and snowdrops and daffodils and they are the most ephemeral of flowers and yet you lovingly made them for such brief glory. Something doesn’t have to be permanent or long lasting to have value.
I watch my daughters draw and paint and colour and I watch them make wonderful imaginative things out of paper and sticky tape. They snip and stick and pretend and build and design and it comes easily to them. They don’t doubt that they can do it. They have confidence that they can put down on paper their ideas and they love making. If we don’t have the materials they need they are quick to improvise. They are full of hope and confidence and creativity.
Sometime in the future someone might say that their dinosaur doesn’t look like a dinosaur, or a clumsy art teacher might give them a ‘D’ for the still life fruit bowl they laboured over and the idea might creep in that perhaps they’re not such a good artist as they thought they were. Likewise a music teacher might not pick them for the choir and they quickly conclude that they can’t sing. How come all children can sing without inhibition and present their pictures to us with pride and confidence that we’ll know what they are and yet by adulthood so many of us can’t sing and can’t draw?
Life beats it out of us. Dancing. Making up stories. Imagination. By the time we arrive in adulthood we have hangups and chips on our shoulders and we are too self conscious. My friend who writes beautiful, heartfelt poetry finds it hard to let people read it. Another friend shows me a painting and tells me she doesn’t think it’s any good.
You are like I am with my children. I show you my creation and you bend down to me and you take it from me and hold it to the light and you turn it this way and that and you smile and marvel and your eyes are full of pride and pleasure that I brought it for you. Made it for you.
I have the instinct to create. I’m sure that every last person who says that they don’t have a creative bone in their body just haven’t looked in the right place, or else they have forgotten how to find it. Whether it’s cake decoration or restoring vintage motor bikes or gardening or flower arranging or dry stone walling.
I love the way that you open my eyes to see the beauty in your creation. Help me always to see the beauty in our creations, too. To see the Creator in everyone. To appreciate our God-given yearnings to make and build and add and embellish. It’s beautiful.
It’s an offering.
As I write this purple freesia is lolling over the top of the screen of my computer from the vase in front of me. Your handiwork. It is perfect in every way.
You are the Master. I look at you and I look at the world around me and I realise my offering is small and imperfect, but then I remember you crouching to receive it with the delight and love of a Father and I am inspired to make you something new.
Because you made me that way.
Just for you.