Friday, May 15, 2009

What if Humans Are the Art Supplies?

At a creativity retreat, one can expect any number of metaphors using art supplies. It wouldn't surprise me if some people get annoyed with these constant comparisons. Some people want to dive right in and start creating, and not think about deeper issues, like what it all means--although if you're not interested in existential and theological issues, I'm not sure why you'd come to a retreat at a church camp. I'm a poet, so I love any exercises that could lead to interesting poems.

Yesterday, I talked about the idea of God as art materials. But today, I'd like to think about what it means if humans are the art materials.

I love the idea of clay being happy with its clay nature. It doesn't spend the day wishing it was steel. It knows what it can do, and it rests secure in its earthen self.

I, on the other hand, am not good at being happy with my essential nature. I'm always trying to improve myself. I always have a plan to do more reading, more writing, more praying, more yoga, and more exercise. I'm always looking for a way to eat better and to lose weight. I spend much time wondering if I'm doing what God put me on earth to do.

But what if I don't need to improve? What if I'm exactly what I'm meant to be? What if God put me here, knowing exactly what God was doing?

We are the art materials! God put as here as part of the plan for the redemption of creation, that redemption that's already taken place, but isn't complete yet.

If we are the art materials, God wants us to be ourselves. God NEEDS us to be ourselves.

Think about it this way: some of us are clay, some of us are fabric, some of us are paint, and some of us are metals.

If we all decided we needed to be blue paint, and we spent all our time and energy trying to be blue paint, we would deny the world, and God, the creator, all sorts of wonderful possibilities.

God would keep working with us, of course. God isn't going to dump us all in the trash, saying, "I hate all this blue paint!" If we all decide to be blue paint, God will have a blue period.

But how much more glorious a world we'd have, if God had full access to all the art supplies: if we'd all decide to be just what we were meant to be and quit trying to be something else.

The world will spend lots of time trying to convince us all to squeeze into very narrow molds. God needs us to be something else. And the Good News is that God needs us to be exactly who we are.

(thanks to Pastor Mary Canniff-Kuhn, who suggested all these possible interpretations and implications at Lutheridge during the 2009 Create in Me retreat).

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