A therapist I was seeing once asked me, “What nurtures you?” This is a deep question, and it took me the remainder of the week to answer it. Many things nurture me to a greater or lesser degree, but the thing that stands out is “creativity.”
Creativity. Noun. The ability to make new things or think of new ideas. [Merriam-Webster]
Nurture. Noun. The care and attention given to someone or something that is growing or developing. [Merriam-Webster]
Nurturing Creativity. Two words that taken together have two meanings, both of which are true. Creativity is nurturing, and creativity has to be nurtured.
I am a creative person. My last job before I retired was the perfect job. I was a change agent, which allowed and required me to use a lifetime of knowledge and skills and experiences to bring order and clarity out of chaos and confusion. It was demanding and exhausting work, and I thrived on it. A manager said in a performance review, “Michael is comfortable with creative chaos.”
Today I practice creativity mainly through imaginative writing. Especially fiction. I bring the tools of the craft of writing to bear on the raw material of unorganized thoughts and words to invent vivid worlds, to populate them with interesting characters, and to set those characters on amazing quests in this invented world; to show them growing and changing, to reveal in them the same struggles and challenges, victories and defeats, hopes and dreams, that we find in our own lives. This is an intensely creative endeavor. Disappearing into it for an hour or two or three, is one of the few places where I feel fully alive.
I also practice imaginative writing through non-fiction. I have a blog. I keep a journal, I produce content for my Tai Chi teacher’s website. I am good with words, and writing short nonfiction comes easily. But what makes it come alive is when I am able to set my creative imagination free to write sentences and paragraphs and essays that sing, that soar, that take on a magical quality, a kind of luminescence. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, I experience a natural high. And there is a reason for that.
There is a story in the Bible about God creating the world and the first man, Adam. He puts Adam in a garden and brings to him each of the animals, and Adam names them. Up until that moment of naming, they do not have names. God has not named them. He has left that task to Adam. He invites Adam to do that work, to take up that creative task, to become a co-creator with God.
To create a magical sentence is to become a co-creator with God, and in that moment, that magical moment, God is delighted. How can this be anything other than a sacred act, an act of worship? It is no wonder that it becomes a transcendent moment, for we are never more ourselves that when we engage in the sacred act of worship.
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