by Michael Norton
We bear the image of the Ultimate Creator, which means one of our central, defining, and universal traits is that we, too, are creators. When we create, much like when we worship, we reflect God’s beauty back into the world.
Creating is a privilege that God invites us into. Tragically, some people endure circumstances that limit their ability to create (much like some circumstances prevent Christians from openly worshiping). But when God gives us the opportunity to create, to bring about something new that offers form and function, then we are doing the small, daily work of bringing God’s Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.
In my profession (I work in education), plenty of voices decry how schools ruin children’s ability to create. In his now famous Ted Talk, How Schools Kill Creativity, Sir Ken Robinson, calls us to “reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity” and adjust our education systems accordingly. Claims about our education system aside, Sir Robinson is correct that creating and experiencing the richness of human capacity go hand in hand.
Importantly, being creative doesn’t mean we all should be visual artists. Creating includes all domains: we can create a warm and welcoming setting for a family gathering, a memorable dinner from a hodgepodge of ingredients around the house, a clear and impactful presentation at work, a new way to arrange our furniture, or even (gulp) a thoughtfully crafted email. (Given how ubiquitous email is, a single thoughtful email shines brightly. God’s image, peaking through the fog of our email-infested lives.)
Trivial though these may seem, each creative act allows us to experience the richness of human capacity, or in our language, to reflect God’s beauty back into the world. I believe, quite strongly, that the hardest part of creating–in a culture that values expediency–is recognizing that creating can be a spiritual disciple. Daily acts of creation may not be on par with the sacraments but creating, and thus mimicking God’s creative nature, can be a way to reflect God on this side of the new heavens. Working out how and what you or any one person ought to create is the same mixture of wisdom and trial and error grounded in trust, just like all acts of pursuing God. Logistics aside, it’s not a burden; it’s a privilege to create. We have the freedom and accept the calling to take the time required to reflect God’s image through what we create.