Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Advent 1.4

"I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius, or something very small, comes to the artist and says, 'Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me.' And the artist can either say, 'My soul doth magnify the Lord,' and willingly become the bearer of the work, or refuses; but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary." 
- Madeleine L'Engle, Herself
I ran across this L'Engle quote today (she's one of those many writers that I need to read more of, by the way... and it shames me that for so long I thought of her only as the author of A Wrinkle in Time, et al. Oops.) in A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

L'Engle's thoughts in this quote go hand in hand with a primary concept from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, which I read this fall. At its most basic, the concept is that God = creativity, creativity = God. Responding to our desire to create honors our Creator. 

I find it strange that until now, the idea that God might be within - might even deeply care about - my creative ventures hadn't crossed my mind, at least in this very specific vein. Funny, because I've written sermons and reflections to share in worship services, and there's always the thought that God is with you when you write those type of pieces - pieces referring to God, pieces where "hey God, did you really think/say/do this here in Chapter 3,234 verse 2a?" would be a really helpful prayer to have answered right about now... 

That word - help - is how I've viewed God within my creative work before, I think. Help me finish this paper. Help me come up with a good metaphor for this reflection. Help me not look/sound like an idiot when I read this aloud. Powering through by grace... is still exhausting. 

But that God might enjoy my writing, whether it's spiritual or not? The possibility that God might climb into my brain (okay, or at least alert me to God's continual presence in a more tangible way so I can wake up to it...) and pull me more out of myself and more into the story, because it means something, because God knows that somewhere down the road it might impact someone? That maybe that spark I get where I'm writing a sentence and it just keeps going and I find another word and then another and it doesn't stop and I love what I'm doing I love it this is what I'm supposed to do... maybe that's God? 

Some of you might want to toss an eye roll and a "duh!" my way. Sure, perhaps I've been oblivious. It's easy to do, especially when so often, my primary emotion while staring at a Word document is glazed frustration that the words aren't just pouring out of me in the exact order that they are supposed to go. (What is with this in-between cloudy feeling that somewhere in the unsearchable realms of my brain, the story flows brilliantly and I don't even have to write it? weird.) I've become practiced at avoidance, too frozen and fearful to even start a shitty first draft, as Anne Lamott affectionately refers to it. Those many many moments of halt and freeze have made finding God, or any enjoyment, in the creative process difficult.

But I'm coming back to it, I can tell. These days I'm much more apt to write and write and not really think, and most importantly, I'm doing better at not judging the words that appear on the page at the first go. I like thinking that God is in the first and the middle and the final drafts, no matter how they start and shift and change - or maybe those starts and shifts and changes happen because God is within them. I like that a second look is always going to make me see something differently, how I phrase it or what I need to add or rearrange. It's helping me along.

In A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Held Evans says of Mary: "She is what made Jesus both fully God and fully man, her womb the place where heaven and earth meld into one." (pp. 72) It's cool to think that creative muses might be born that way too, more deeply intertwined with the divine than we realize.

God, guide me to be creative in waiting this season... bring joy and expectation to the words and stories that will begin, and the knowledge that you are within them, within us. 

Reflection Index


LEH said...

Thanks Claire for your reflections. I keep trying to balance the creativity of writing, creating worship, things you traditionally think of as "creative" and the creativity of crafting days for a family. God grant me grace...

Darla D said...

Love the L'Engle quote...and the imagery of us giving birth to creative things...and magnifying the Lord at the same time. I've done a women's bible study along similar thoughts and this is another piece to add to it. Thank you...