catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 13, Num 5 :: 2014.03.07 — 2014.03.20


Creating room

Looking back, I realize I have experienced it before: I have a vague recollection of sitting in the high school music room, the 2:30 winter sunlight streaming through the windows onto the saxophone section, looking up at my director and playing some simple notes — a quarter note, probably, and a few half notes­ — before holding a whole note until he cuts us off to end the piece; and again, in college, my hands crusting over with drying clay as I smooth out what will soon be the small of Adam’s back while my partner cuts out the wrinkles of his hand on Eve’s hip; and a couple of weeks ago, jotting down some phrases for a poem in class. Most recently I have felt it in my classroom: my students’ hands grasping pencils or paintbrushes, their fingers flying over keyboards — single lines or strokes or letters adding to other lines or strokes or letters in the process of creating.

It has always been in distraction-free creation that I have felt it: an urge to breathe deeply, a deep inhale that comes not out of necessity, but out of pleasure, out of joy, out of peace. For too long I failed to recognize the same thing that I often fail to recognize even today: the deep inhale is a result of the Holy in acts of creativity. For too long I failed to acknowledge the presence of the Holy in handiwork and imagination and innovation. But now, here it is when I welcome it — when I see my students focused on their art or when I sit behind a loom or a sewing machine and empty myself.

And it is no wonder, is it, that I can feel God’s presence in the creative process? When we give ourselves completely to artistic work — whether it be the piecing together of fabric for a quilt, words for a poem, old bicycle parts for a new bicycle, or stewed apples and cinnamon for autumn preserves — we also have the opportunity to give ourselves completely to God. He, too, gave Himself fully to his artistic work: for six days he pieced together nothing, then dust and then breath, and when He was finished, he told us, His handiwork, that we are like Him. When we create, we are fulfilling His image in us. When we create, we become more like Him. When we create, the Creator is in us and in others and in our work. When we create, we are inviting the Holy to create with us, and when we create, we are also inviting the Holy to recreate us.

When I imagine, design and make, and when I am able to do this with my entire heart and mind, I am creating a space for God to be present, a solitary space for me to experience Him. When I create an environment in which my students can imagine, design and craft with their entire hearts and minds, we are creating room for God to be present, a communal space for us to experience Him. In the act of creating, we can, like Moses, take off our shoes and stay awhile in His Holy presence.

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