I’ve never been good with the scissors. Or, for that matter, colored pencils. I’ve told people that I think I missed the day in kindergarten where you learn to use scissors properly: I’m really bad at cutting out shapes or cutting paper in straight lines. Most little kids can draw animals and stick figure people better than me.
But despite my lack of artistic sensibilities, I’ve discovered different mediums to express creativity. Whether through photography, writing, or turning pallets into succulent planters, I’ve worked at cultivating an artistic awareness of all the beauty (and potential for beauty) that surrounds us.
Recently, I’ve heard numerous calls for Christians to “return to the arts,” with references to the plethora of religious art filling the world’s museums contrasted with the dearth of recent and good Christian art (the Painter of Light excluded, of course). But this is not a call to Christian artists to produce better artwork; instead, maybe it’s a call for Christians to see and engage the world as creativity-inducing. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “creative-type,” you should find ways to express the creativity ingrained within you.
It seems silly and redundant to say that our Creator is creative. But I think many Christians use terms like Creation and Creator without consciously recognizing that to be a Creator is to be creative and to speak of Creation is to speak of God as artist. The poetic nature of the Genesis creation stories point to God who painted the stars, sculpted the mountains, and breathed life across the canvas of the universe.
To be part of the people of God is to be a poet, an artist, a storyteller – even if you can’t use scissors.
Paint. Write. Sculpt. Construct. Dance.
Even – no, especially – if you’re not a painter, writer, sculptor, constructor, or dancer.
I wrote the above partially inspired by a book that’s been sitting on my desk to review for a few weeks. Help Me Be: Praying in Poems by Dale C. Fredrickson is a collection of poem-prayers, not dissimilar from two of my favorites: Walter Brueggemann’s (who contributed the forward to Fredrickson’s volume) Awed to Heaven, Rooted to Earth or Ted Loder’s Guerillas of Grace.
I like volumes like this because they point to a new way of engaging the world as a follower of Jesus. It gives freedom to artists to engage faithfully in their art and freedom to non-artists to engage artistically in their faith, and Fredrickson’s collection of poems does this well.
Here’s a selection of one of the poems in the book, called Beloved:
When the interworking of our world is right
We sit smiling at the banqueting table.
You whisper songs of love, brilliant and bright.
When the interworking of our world is wrong.
We kneel, sobbing, table broken, food spoiled,
You remind us to whom the beloved belong.
When the interworking of our world
Somehow shifts from wrong to right,
We’re surprised and realize the Table’s enough
You eat with us, our joy rising, our lives alight.
We live under the love
You lavish upon us.
We hold on through heartbreaks
Your help is for us.
We dance and dream
You delight in us.
Both of these books were review copies received from the publisher via SpeakEasy. No positive review was required or requested; all thoughts above are my own!