“I have never seen you so nervous”, I am quoting my friend and Superintendent colleague Nathan, who was speaking to me at the Superintendents Conference in Oxford. I was there to offer a collaborative exhibition/ installation of art, music and spoken word, the art and some of the spoken word was mine, the music and other spoken word was by my Co-Superintendent colleague and friend James Morley, who has written (1) in part about that exhibition and the subsequent installation taken to Blackpool Superintendents Conference a month later.
Nervous, well yes and no, as James identified the word for describing the feeling was probably vulnerable, to offer something creative is to offer something of your soul and to open it up for critique. It is not about facts and figures, and while it may well reveal truth to or challenge and even move the viewer/ hearer, to offer something creative means opening yourself to the possibility that the offering will be misunderstood, judged, not appreciated or simply ignored.
To offer creativity is reflective of the heart of God at the centre of creation, in a word bursting with beauty, it is to grow weeds at the end of your garden for the birds to feed upon, to dare to be called lazy but to know the joy of seeing a dozen goldfinches feeding from the weed heads surpasses any criticism.
To offer creativity is to yarn bomb a barrier, drawing attention to it in creative protest that adds colour and asks subversive questions in an unexpected way. To offer creativity is to knit angels and send them to Westminster, to embroider questions, to tie ribbons to trees. (2)
To offer creativity is to offer who you are, it can be risky, but it brings life to us and to others. I am always deeply moved when others are moved by my offerings, we become connected somehow often in a place beyond words. I have often said that sometimes my paintings find homes because of the way that others respond to them, and have given quite a number away because of the way that others react. In a sense I give away a little piece of my heart, and that somehow reflects the God whose offer and gift to us is always more.
My creativity is an expression of who I am, it often begins in the darkness and leads me into the light, I write and paint from who I am and how I am in relation to the God that I experience. To work with others is a gift, co-creating is a reflection of the trinity a giving and sharing of the deepest self and allowing another to see and respond to that creative expression, this in turn invites others into that space. To issue that invitation is to share your deepest self, as God shares her deepest self with us. Creativity is in many ways an invitation into mystery, and almost always a discovery.
Your creativity will be an offering of who you are, it may be influenced by others but it will be unique, I think that is why it is vulnerable, but it is also essential that we allow ourselves the grace and space to be creative. Joanne Cox Darling identifies the arts as vehicles of the Holy Spirit, able to challenge and to change us;
” The creative arts themselves….. continue to be a catalyst for conversation and for change, at the personal as well as societal level. Hope, beauty, love and grace are discovered as people pay attention and play their part in their performance.”
“…the challenge faced by the whole of humanity is to find ways to be tuned into things of beauty.” (3)
Where do you find beauty? What speaks to you? What challenges you…. what changes you? On Sunday someone took the risk of engaging with an piece of my art work by putting his hand into the slashed canvas, his response challenged all who watched and his encounter became our encounter. There is no right or wrong in our creativity or engagement, what delights you many not delight me, and vice-versa for we are a part of God’s glorious holy creation, and somehow we are called to wholeness together….
So let’s celebrate our creative selves…. let’s choose to dare to be vulnerable, to dare to offer ourselves for one another and for the world.
you did not create me
to be small, or call me to
a reduced life….
so what keeps me small?
surely it is my inability
to love myself as I need to be loved,
to see myself as you see me,
it is my tendency to hide
all that could be transformed,
enlarged, set free…
surely it is my failure
to accept my potential,
leading me to hide
behind the unimportant,
and the trivial,
my tendency to run
to shrink from opportunities,
to turn from challenge
these things keep me small…
you did not create me
to be small, or call me to
a reduced life;
so come Spirit of life
i need you,
i need you to work
a miracle in my heart,
my mind, my soul,
i need you to release me from my
self imposed prison of excuses,
to take my hand
to walk with me through
the corridors of doubt,
to run with me, to hold me,
to help me to see myself through your eyes,
to know myself
as you know me,
to accept myself as you accept me,
that i might grow in love
because you loved me first
- Vulnerability as Creativity by James Morley https://theologyeverywhere.org/2019/06/24/vulnerability-as-creativity-a-spiritual-discipline/
2. How to be a Craftivist: The Gentle Art of Protest by Sarah Corbett , Unbound Publications October 2017
3. Finding God in a culture of fear, Joanne Cox-Darling, BRF. May 2019
4. Pictures mine- please ask for details https://www.facebook.com/Kainotes-713323768703732/