Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Creativity: Using What's On Hand

A few years ago, at Mepkin Abbey, we noticed that one of the huge, majestic trees had toppled over.  But we were more awed by what the monks had decided to do with that tree:

The other chunk of tree was later carved into a crucifixion scene:

The monks could have paid a lot of money to an arborist team to have that tree removed.  But instead, they saw the creative possibilities.

It makes me wonder about the materials I have on hand.  I often go out to buy materials for a project.  What if I worked from a different perspective?  What if I thought about what I already have in my house and went from there?

This monastic approach of using what's on hand branches out into all areas of the monk's lives, from what I can see.  I've been there for meals with pairings that I thought very odd:  a spinach-tomato frittata paired with a cottage cheese and pineapple side dish.  I wondered if the monks were simply trying to use up the food on hand that was about to go bad.   How many of us might have run out to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients that we thought would be more appropriate for a side dish, like a salad or broccoli?

Well, if I used what I had on hand and started from there, I'd have time to do a lot more creating, time I would have spent running errands and waiting to have money to buy supplies and waiting to have time to get to the store. 

Let me take a lesson from the monks.  Let me begin with what's on hand.  Let me start now.

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