Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process. Enthusiasm from the Greek words means "filled with God" - it is the flow of life itself.
We tend to use the word creation in at least two different ways. I may talk about what I have created or perhaps more accurately what I have made. I think it was the theologian Matthew Fox who said that, "We are bipeds who make things", thats not a bad place to start. And as I mentioned last week, I think that at our heart we are all creators. I recently ask a group what have you created and the first response can from a woman in the front row, "my daughter" she proudly exclaimed. Birth and creation and creativity all come from the same source.
But those of us in the spiritual/religious world also talk of THE creation and by that we mean the world around us and the universe itself. In that sense we are saying that the universe, the earth, the flora and fauna, the animals and human beings were created and by implication, created by a creator. This view has shaped Christian theology and most religious world views, for perhaps 4,000 years (thats an uneducated guess on my behalf!) The sense of a creator is intricately tide to the birth of what is called monotheism the One God. It is most poetically expressed in the words of the Prophet Isaiah
"For this is what the Lord says It is God who created the heavens; who fashioned and made the earth and who founded it. God did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited for he says: 'I am the Lord, and there is no other.'" (Isaiah 45:18).
From the source we call God, creation and all human creativity flows. And the awareness that we are all co-creators with the creative force of life in the Cosmos, in the Universe has because fundamental to our place in the world.
It was the 12th Century German mystic Meister Eckhart, who said,
"Every creative act reveals God and expands Gods being All creatures are doing their best to help God in his birth of himself."
Thats a mystics view of human creativity. And it makes sense because I think we are beginning to recover the idea that what we make with our hands, of course I dont just mean what we make with our hands as if it is a physical thing. it is all that we make, our relationships, our work, our parenting and so forth all connect us to God and to the Creator.
The Creation is the Source of Creativity
Strangely, the view that the cosmos reveals that we are connected to God is not always accepted in Christian theology. There is a tradition that divorces both the wonder of the cosmos and the process of human creative endeavour from our life in God. It holds that somehow the world of Christian faith exists outside of human worldly experience. Thats not the case for me. I believe we find the divine, the sacred in the stuff of life.
It came home to me a few years ago when Anne and I visited Uluru in Central Australia. We both discovered the awe and wonder of that sacred landscape and it began to reshape our inner landscape. It has something to do with that remarkable monolith sitting in the centre of our continent. But also it has to do with the relationship between that rock and the first people of Australia, that deep connection they have with the earth, the creation and the sacred. Being there, at dawn, midday, dusk and midnight, I began to see that this earth, this world, this cosmos the stars in the sky, is somehow Gods body. So when I am in the presence of this landscape I am in the presence of God, the source and ground of creation. It also reminded me of a line from a poem by Robert Frost, "We dance around in a ring and suppose, while the secret sits in the middle and knows." Creation is the very source and centre of our creativity.
The Creation connects us to the Spirit of Christ
But what is also important is that a deep love and connection with the creation, the earth that leads us to a deep love and connection with the Spirit of Christ. These two realms of life are not mutually exclusive; they are in fact part of the same human encounter with the Holy.
This vision of what some have called the Cosmic Christ helps us bring our Christian faith and the world around us together. Body and Spirit both essentially vibrant, vital dimensions of life. This is expressed so powerfully in the letter to the church a Colossae, "Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God For through him God created everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen things." (Colossians 1:16ff.) This is a grand vision. The author is not just talking about the person Jesus of Nazareth, but rather trying to capture the sense of the source and ground of the creative force that Jesus expressed and communicated in his life and message.
The Creation is being Reborn all the Time
But it is not just that that creative spirit seem in the life of Jesus was present in him, it is dynamic being reborn in every moment of every day. The Spirit of Christ say the Apostle Paul to the Corinthian community, is making all things new, "Therefore if we are in Christ, then we are a new creation; the old things have passed away and behold, new things have come into being." The creativity thread runs through everything in life. From the source and ground of being to the future beyond imagination, "He who sits on the throne said, Behold, I am making all things new." (Revelation 21:5)
I dont want this to sound trite, but every act of creation or creativity connects us to the new being we are in Christ. It reminds us that life is always being born, created and re-created. Im resisting the temptation to tell you a grandfather story about gardening with my grandson last week and its connections to birth and rebirth .
What is most important is to appreciate that creation is not a once and for all event, it is happening all the time, all around us, birth, death and rebirth. It happens in our work, in our relationships, in our thinking about life, in our faith and our religion Creation and Creativity. Perhaps the exhortation is to get with the programme and be willing to be open to life, to the creation and to the new creation.
Im reminded of a quote from Julie Cameron, the Author of the book The Artists Way which I began with. She wrote:
Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process. Enthusiasm from the Greek word means "filled with God" - it is the flow of life itself.
Creativity is the quality and commitment that you bring to the activity that you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach; its how you look at things and the world. Whatever you do, if you do it lovingly, with enthusiasm, (God filled) then it is creative. I know that not everyone likes the idea of say, "creative accounting." In the same way that we would be worried if a doctor practiced "creative surgery." But thats putting a negative spin on the word creative. The best financial and medical people are always imaginative, committed, compassionate and connected in all that they do. Thats being creative.
Let me finish with the picture on the front of the order of service and ask a question, which of the two pictures is the most creative? To be clear they each represent very different artists, different experiences of life, different level of practical skill, and so forth. But which do you prefer? Maybe an unfair question because both these artist drew their creativity from the same source the Spirit of Life. Both used the stuff of the earth, plaster or paper and paint to create and so both pictures are authentic, joyful, honesty and hopeful expressions of a slice of life, in this case the creation of humanity.
We are creating and being created every moment of everyday. We are co-creators in our lives, relationships, our work and our leisure with the God of creation. All that am, all that I have and all that do is made and re-made, re-created as God in Christ makes all things new. Amen