Wednesday, August 24, 2011

God of the Rough Drafts

Yesterday, two different bloggers wrote about the creative process and making things with our hands.  Beth, a graphic designer, in this post remembers a time when she needed ink and paper and glue and sharp knives.  I, too, remember doing newspaper layout with x-acto knives.  I remember the huge machines that printed the newspapers.  But now, when I read a paper newspaper, I grow impatient with having to flip pages and wrestle with the paper.  I'd rather read online--me and the rest of the world, apparently.

Beth's post inspired Dave to write this post about manual typewriters and what a physical task it was to create poems.  He ends with a great image of his old computer buried in a field:  "A few years later, I finally upgraded and put the old beast out to pasture — literally. I didn’t know then about the heavy metals and other hazardous substances found in circuit boards, cathode ray tubes and the like. So now it sits in a shallow, unmarked grave somewhere out in the goldenrod patch we call a field."

I love this idea of a computer in a field.  I have this vision of plants abloom in microchips and motherboards.  I may play with this idea further.

Beth wrote this line:  "Can we appreciate creation if we don't know what it is to be a creator?"

I'd take this a step further:  can we have a fully developed relationship with our creator if we don't have experience with creating ourselves?

I'd also wonder if our experience as creators is shaped by what story we've been told about our Creator God.  If your God is the God of Noah who drowns creation, what is your relationship to your own creations?  How does the story of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden shape your creative self?

I prefer the God of the earliest Genesis creation story.  Many believers don't realize that there are several creation stories in Genesis, but there are.  The Adam and Eve story is a much later creation story.

Go back and reread the first chapter of Genesis.  Reacquaint yourself with that Creator.  Here we see a God at work creating and delighting in creation.  God doesn't say, "Oh, I thought this was a good idea, but it turned out to be repulsive.  I'm destroying it."  Not in the first chapter of Genesis--God declares everything God makes to be very good.

We also don't see God wrestling with new technology coming along to make the old technology obsolete.  God doesn't have to wrestle with whether or not to use paint or a computer program to make the perfect shade.  Now there's an idea for a poem.  Hmm.

I wrote a poem called, "When God Switched Fabrics."  It begins this way:

"On the third day, God switched
fabrics. At first, God had followed
respectfully the lessons of the elders:
which fabrics could be used,
which fabrics couldn’t go together,
which decorative objects were suitable.
God stuck to the established patterns:
Flying Geese, Star of Bethlehem, and Log Cabin."

In this poem, God goes on to become a fabric artist.  It's one of my favorite metaphors I've created for God.

I also wrote a poem called "God at the Creativity Retreat."  One year, the Create in Me group studied the first chapter of Genesis, and then we did our own creating.  I was struck by the difference in how we humans approached creativity during the 4 day week-end retreat and how God approached it.  I wrote this stanza:

"God doesn’t understand
the instant rejection of creations.
God spends part of each
day leaning into our ears to whisper,
'It is good.'"

I wish I could end this post by showing you what I saw in the sky this morning:  a rainbow!  It reminded me of that promise to Noah--no more drowning of creation.  But in my files, I do have this picture of a double rainbow, which appeared in the sky several years ago.  So, on this day when it may seem like the earth is shifting under your feet and you don't know what to expect anymore and a huge storm threatens the entire east coast, remember the promise!


Beth said...

Kristin, I'm so glad you were inspired to write, er, create this post! Your poem about the creativity retreat gets to the heart of one of the main reasons we seem to have so much trouble thinking of ourselves as creators: our efforts are never good enough, as we're told again and again by life and by our human judges. If we never go beyond identifying God as perfection, and the "best" human artists as higher than mere mortals, it's going to be pretty difficult, isn't it? That's why I titled my post "Process" and why I try to remember that the process of creating is what makes us creators, not just a finished product, and it's from process that we learn the most.

And I just got your wonderful new chapbook, "I Stand Here Shredding documents," which speaks to some of these issues, it seems to me, with a narrator who's so often sidetracked from what she really wants and needs to do (be a creator) by those endless meetings and responsibilities...congrats on the publication and I hope lots of people will order and read it.

rbarenblat said...

Thank you so much for this post, Kristin. I love your point that in order to have a fully-realized relationship with our Creator, we too need to be able to create... and I love the extent to which that metaphor evokes for me both creativity/poetry and procreation.

(And thank you for recognizing the multiple creation stories in Genesis! :-)

ndomsampler said...

This was brilliant. So Glad that David put up a link for this..

Diane Lockward said...

My copy of your chapbook also just arrived. Looks great. I'm looking forward to digging in. Congratulations!

Kristin said...

Thank you all for coming and commenting.

I'm glad to hear the chapbook arrived. Happy Reading! And thanks again for ordering it.

Mouse said...

one of my favourite objects in the British Museum is a carving of reindeer made from a mammoth's tusk.

I think that what makes it special, why it resonates with me, is that archaeologists believe that when a man sat down to carve those reindeer, some 13000 years ago, he was displaying one of the earliest indications of a belief in God and that his act of carving those reindeer was his way of worship