Creativity- the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, imagination.

I’ve been thinking about creativity this week.  With the passing yesterday of one of our generations’ most creative minds, it has struck me that creativity is perhaps at the heart of what makes us fully alive.  On a spiritual level, creativity is our very connection to our Creator- the life force that makes us most like our Heavenly Father in whose image we were created.

My eldest daughter and I had the privilege this past weekend to be in the cast of an original musical called Weaver.  The story and the music of Weaver (except for 2 songs) were written entirely by my friends Don and Zoe.  This particular story, the melodies, the lyrics were not present in our world prior to Don and Zoe deciding to bring it into existence.  Something within them decided that, in a world full of songs and stories, something new was needed…something different…something beautiful.  Something we didn’t know we were missing until we experienced it.  As actors, singers, artists and musicians, we then became part of the creative process by adding our own touch to the story…a collective work of creation that further touched the lives of both the participants and the members of the audience.

Multiply our experience by every song you hear, every play you watch, every book you read, every piece of artwork you enjoy.  What causes someone to decide that the world isn’t enough with just the status quo?  Why do we build a more beautiful building, sing a different song, paint another painting?  What inspires us to dig deep within ourselves and expose ourselves to criticism and judgement by offering up our creations to public scrutiny?

While I have been speaking specifically of more traditional forms of “art” such as theatre, music, and painting, I think the opportunity to look back over the life of Steve Jobs reminds us that creativity occurs anytime we allow ourselves to think outside the confines of that which already exists.   Mr. Jobs, in his short life, created products that we didn’t even know we needed and now we are sure we just can’t live without.  He didn’t allow failure to stop him from imagining something new, something better, something different.  I don’t know whether he was a man of faith, but it seems to me that he lived his life with an understanding that being in touch with his creativity meant making a difference in the world.  I love these words from his address to the Stanford students in 2005:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

As a believer, following my “heart and intuition” is directly related to staying connected to the originator of that Creative spark within me.  Knowing that God made each of us with the ability and the yearning to be creative forces within this world challenges me to pay attention to those opportunities that I am given to step outside of the status quo and do something different, even when it is scary.  I read this quote from Julia Cameron last week while we were in our final days of rehearsal for Weaver and it really resonated with me:

‎”We are ourselves creations. We are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves. This is the God-force extending itself through us. Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using creativity is our gift back to God.”

As I said before, it makes sense to me that the creative spark within each one of us is the very thing that most exemplifies the “family resemblance” we have with the One in whose image we were created.  As I sought to describe what I think that feels like for us, I recalled the words to one of my favorite songs from another musical Children of Eden.

I’ve got an itching on the tips of my fingers
I’ve got a boiling in the back of my brain
I’ve got a hunger burning inside me, can not be denied
I’ve got feeling that the Father who made us
When he was kindling a pulse in my veins
He left a tiny spark of that fire, smoldering inside

The spark of creation, is flickering within me
The spark of creation,is blazing in my blood
A bit of the fire that lit up the stars
And breathed life into the mud, the first inspiration
The spark of creation

I see a mountain and I want to climb it
I see a river and I want to leave shore
Where there was nothing let there be something, something made by me
There’s things waiting for me to invent them
There’s worlds waiting for me to explore
I am an echo of the eternal cry of
Let there be!

The spark of creation, is burning bright within me
The spark of creation, won’t let me rest at all
Until I discover or build or uncover
A thing that I can call, my celebration
Of the spark of creation

The spark of creation, may it burn forever
The spark creation, I am a keeper of the flame
We think all we want is a lifetime of leisure
Each perfect day the same
Endless vacation
Well that’s alright if you’re a kind crustacean
But when you’re born with an imagination
Sooner or later you’re feeling the fire get higher and higher
The spark of creation!!!

Having the opportunity to participate in the colloborative creative process of Weaver this past weekend was truly a privilege.  Performing with my daughter, who is passionate about the art of theatre, was a tremendous blessing.  She is in several shows a year and it gave me an even greater sense of admiration for her work ethic, her talent and the courage she displays every time she puts herself out there in the hopes of creating something meaningful.  Zoe and Don are my heroes for believing in their own spark of creation and trusting the process even when the end result was unclear.  I am inspired by all the artists with whom I worked these past few weeks.

“I am an echo of the eternal cry of Let There Be!”