Finding Our Creative Voices
My Experience as a Participant
As I look out my window I can see the twilight, a bit of pale blue resting just above the horizon following the setting sun. It is now 8:30 p.m. and I know summer is just around the corner. I left work with the sun still high in the sky, happy to know I could enjoy several hours of daylight on my own time. Yet, just a few months ago, I left work to attend the first day of the Finding Our Creative Voices workshop at Old South. It was January 7 and as I left the office, the air was cold and the sky was dark.
While we enjoy and celebrate the long days of summer, there are some good things to say about winter. Winter can be viewed as a time of hibernation and gestation: a period of rest. The darkness can be considered a time to wait. Certainly light and dark are used as metaphors for life and learning. Sometimes we need to pass through darkness to get to light. Creativity can begin in darkness.
Hatching a creative idea is a lot like baking bread. An idea needs to rise. If you poke at it too much at the beginning, if you keep checking on it, it will never rise. In baking, the loaf of bread or the cake must stay for a good long time in the darkness and safety of the oven. Creativity requires a respectful reticence.
We gathered to learn to move in creativity. There were approximately a dozen of us at each of the eight sessions held during the months of January and March. February was a month of gestation: a time to sit with, absorb and apply what was covered in January. Old South members, Linda Jenkins and Tom Keydel designed and led the sessions. The workshop was custom designed using Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way as a foundation. Most importantly, Tom and Linda shared their skills and life experience. They created a safe, supportive environment to allow for new learning. This combined with their extensive knowledge and personal application of the principles and concepts made the workshop a huge success. The workshop was further enriched as it was presented from a Christian faith perspective. God was at the center of our experience together.
We all know experience is one of the best teachers. This workshop was a place to practice creativity through individual and group exercises. One exercise in particular stood out in my mind. We created a group mural. The table was covered with brown paper. We were given crayons, colored pencils, chalk and the like and asked to express ourselves. I remember experiencing an intense mix of thoughts and feelings as I walked through this exercise. I was able to immediately write down my feelings in the journal provided. Anyone who was comfortable doing so could also share their experience with the group after the exercise was completed. Awareness of these thoughts and feelings helped me break through some of my personal blocks to creativity.
Each session, we were given about a half dozen quotes to ponder. Here are three of the quotes that jumped off the page for me:
One does not discover new lands without consenting to
lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
It is within my power to either serve God or not to serve
God. Serving God, I add to my own good and the good of the
whole world. Not serving God, I forfeit my own good and deprive
the world of that good, which was in my power to
create. -- Leo Tolstoy
Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next
or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.
The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong,
but we take leap after leap in the dark.
Agnes De Mille
It is within my power to either serve God or not to serve God. Serving God, I add to my own good and the good of the whole world. Not serving God, I forfeit my own good and deprive the world of that good, which was in my power to create. -- Leo Tolstoy
Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark. Agnes De Mille
I grew up understanding black and white. I saw things as right or wrong, good or bad. What I have come to appreciate is the gray. Somewhere between black and white is gray. This is where I have found life. Black and white is known and secure. Gray is a place of challenge, adventure, risk, and discovery. This workshop helped me come closer to a place of creativity and personal discovery.
During the workshop we covered topics such as: perfectionism and risk, trusting and mystery, money madness, luxury, drinking from our own well and the archetype of the tribe. We talked with God. We discussed how God speaks to us today. We quoted from T.S. Eliot, Tolstoy, Picasso, & Stra-vinsky. We listened, discussed, bantered, prayed, shared, touched, felt, cried and laughed. We came away a little dif-ferent from where we had started. What more could we ask?
It is now 11 p.m. and the twilight is gone. The dark of the evening sky is a gift. The night gives us a place for rest and renewal. Surely to be followed by the light of day. Thank you, gracious God, for the variety of ways you teach us about creativity, life and love. +
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