Why do we love to write, draw, cook, take pictures share them with our friends?
Today I offer you a blog post which was recently published in the Spiritual Directors International's blog.
If you use both languages, you'll notice that the English version and the ASL version are somewhat different. This is because, as bi-lingual author, how I express myself varies depending on who I'm speaking to, and which language I'm using. I hope you enjoy whichever version fits you better!
"Somewhere along the way, I settled on this theory." My host is studying me with the intensity of a seer passing truth to the next generation, his long grey beard lending veracity to the image. "I have come to believe that this earth: the universe, the sky, the trees—us—we're all just one giant, ever-changing art project. When you think of it that way, it all finally makes sense." We talk deep into the night, this folk musician from an earlier generation and me, sharing stories and asking questions, many of which we know are without answer.
When I return home, I carry this image with me: the idea of our existence as a piece of art. Though on the surface it seems ludicrous, or at least inconsistent with my theology which values an active, personal God's presence in my own life, the more I think about it the more it sparks my imagination.
In his Reflections, C.S. Lewis said, "An author should never conceive himself as bringing into existence beauty or wisdom that did not exist before, but simply and solely some reflection of Eternal Beauty and Wisdom." Both Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about the creation of stories as something which mirrored the creativity of God. Tolkien took this a step farther in his “doctrine of sub-creation,” postulating that the very act of creating is itself a form of worship, as she who creates imitates the Creator of all things. “…the making of things is in my heart,” Tolkien wrote in The Silmarillian, “From my own making by thee …” We are pieces of the Creator’s story—bits of God’s art project—and our unbidden response to this knowledge is the need to practice sub-creation.
Humans, it seems, are driven to create. We write stories, poems, and books. We paint pictures, sketch, create digital art, and compose music. We snap pictures with our cell phones and create just the image we want with filters and effects before sharing it with the world. We cook elaborate meals, bear children, plant gardens, make jewelry, and design houses. And in so doing, we mirror our Creator, whose creative imagination is beyond our knowledge.
The deeper we delve into the ocean; the farther we stretch into the universe; the more we begin to grasp the unbounded imagination of our Creator. The Creator who formed creatures able to live within an active volcano and survive in the vacuum of space; the author who crafted (and continues to craft) the story of humanity; the musician who gave each bird a unique song and each tree a unique leaf which carries its own sound on the wind.
Imagination is a holy gift, the legacy of our Creator, and our children’s inheritance. As we create today, in ways which seem large as well as those we often consider small, may we recognize our sub-creation as what it is: an expression of Divine within us, an imitation of God, an act of worship.