We come into this world with a curiosity and fascination, a moment-by-moment time of discovery. We delight in the nondescript rocks and pebbles along a path we walk. We are captivated by fireflies dancing on the lawn on a summer’s evening. We tune in to the sounds of a bird singing outside our window. We prefer the box the toy came in and all we imagine we can do with it more than the toy itself. We notice the little things, the important things, while our parents handle the big issues of life. But somewhere along the way, as we grow older, that part of our DNA as God’s created beings starts to erode. We start to leave less room for wonder and even when it pops into a moment, we don’t take long to savor it and get back to the busyness of life.
Watch any toddler for a few minutes and you will see not only wonder but also creativity as he or she goes through every moment of the day. The Bible says clearly in Genesis 1:27 that we were made in God’s image. We often think of his long list of attributes and may include the word Creator, but do we pause to consider how amazingly creative He is and that He placed a creative part of himself in each one of us. Watching a toddler gives evidence of that because it is free from all the qualifiers we put on that word creative along the way.
How often we may hear someone say they aren’t creative at all because they have narrowed what being creative can and does look like. You don’t need to paint the Sistine Chapel or compose a great concerto to be creative. But you do need to begin to discover all the creative pieces God has placed in you for your joy and rest. When we do, we will not fail to notice the beauty around us and that we have a canvass before us each day (if we choose) to create something different or new or at the very least, notice the beauty around us that never fails to refresh us.
It is little wonder that no matter how old we may be, most of us still delight in a Disney movie and find smiles in our hearts and on our faces when Mary Poppins comes sailing through the sky or we go on an adventure in Narnia to meet Aslan, the beavers, Mr. Tumnus and more. Somehow even when we know it isn’t real, we love to pretend and go right along with the story and the main characters depicting it.
“It is the rest one finds when immersed in creative beauty.
Whether natural or man-made, all beauty is a creative work. Our soul yearns to be awed and captivated. When we are deprived these opportunities, depression and apathy arise within us. Creative rest revives our failing hearts. Life becomes more enjoyable when we soak in beauty and light.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD
We can discover this rest in so many places if we take a moment to see it, hear it, breathe it in, and let it replenish us so our own creativity blossoms. I think of that every time I read a passage from Ken Gire’s beautiful book, The Divine Embrace:
“Imagine yourself in a ballroom. Imagine that the Emperor, the Lord Jesus himself, has tapped your shoulder. Hear his voice as he speaks your name and asks you to dance. It is not a dance you have done before. You’re uncertain about it, maybe a little fearful – hesitant to participate. But take a chance; step out onto the dance floor. As the Emperor draws near, look into his eyes. Place your palm in his. And follow his lead.”Ken Gire
Every time I read Ken’s words, I find myself filled with delight and wonder at the scene he invites us to imagine. It moves us into a different level of intimacy he wants us to see. He invites us to imagine what Christ wants us (as his bride) to know of Him. It gives us a vivid example of what it means to allow Him to lead us when we consider being led on a dance floor. A bit later Ken writes:
“There are places he wants to take us on the dance floor, things he wants to show us, feelings he wants to share with us, words he wants to whisper in our ear.”Ken Gire
What points us to evidence we have a deficit in creative rest as Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith wants us to assess?
- Focusing on the needs of others and not considering your needs a priority
- Talking yourself out of self-care as if you don’t deserve being cared for
- Feeling you are being selfish whenever you consider doing something for yourself
- Doing self-destructive things or making choices that sabotage your happiness
- Rarely feeling your work is of value or that others appreciate your contribution
- Finding it difficult to enjoy things in nature or in their natural state
And guess what? We don’t get there by making it another task or a “to do” to get there, demanding some level of creative accomplishment. It doesn’t mean having to take a week or weekend away to replenish the deficit either (even though that can help for a short time). We need to discover moments of it on seemingly ordinary days doing what might seem like ordinary things.
“Creative rest is not about putting a demand on your creative ability; that’s not rest, that’s work. It is the opposite. It’s allowing white space in your life and giving room for your creativity to show up. Creative rest lets you focus on your basic need for wonder.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD
I love watching people and seeing some of the special evidences on creativity bringing them joy and rest. If you’re looking for it, you will discover it as well. And as soon as I wrote that, images of some of my grandchildren came to mind. One of them is amazingly gifted in creating stunning beauty in her baked creations and finds relaxation and ease in it while it would be tedious and work for me and never achieve her results. Each of our six grandchildren (and their parents) has that piece of God-given creativity placed inside of them. What is often harder for us is to see it in ourselves, to allow the “white space” in our lives that Saundra Dalton-Smith writes about so we can discover it.
When I glance in the rearview mirror at my life, I see more numerous ways than I might guess that I have enjoyed or developed creativity. As I approached retirement, there was a blank canvass before me. I was not one of those who looked forward to hours playing golf or gardening (Nothing wrong with those, but they aren’t me.) and I wasn’t anticipating only sitting on our porch or deck with no idea of what to do with my time. But what happened was not on my radar screen.
Each stop on my timeline that shifted to something new was an opportunity God placed before me to take a seed He placed within me and watch Him show me how to help it grow and then see Him use it. And it happened again as I retired. That joy in reading and writing creatively suddenly gave an opportunity to attend a writer’s conference and the assignment was to develop a website and begin writing posts. I was aghast since I was clueless on how to do them and despite my sense of inadequacy and seeing my enjoyment of those as just that, God led me through the fear of “stepping out onto the dance floor” with Him.
In the process, I have been replenished every time He leads me to sit down here to write and share a glimpse of something He has used to impact my life, sharing pieces of my heart (and his). It is not work but joy that fills each new discovery to share here. Please give Him space in this season to find what He has waiting for you in creative rest.
“The amazing thing about creative rest is its ability to leave a lasting impression on us…moments of creative rest are hard to forget.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD