By Rev. Joan Kessler
This short documentary spoke to me. I hope it spoke to you as well. This Sunday, as we begin our Lenten journey once again. It is a time to not only prepare to receive the death, mystery and resurrection of the coming Easter, but also to contemplate our inner life and the deaths and resurrections that constantly takes place within us. I want us to take up the theme of Wilderness but from a different perspective than from where we have entered it other years. The questions I have been asking myself are “What holds me back from being a creative person?”. “What is the definition of creativity and how does it relate to being a more fully spiritual and grounded human being?”
In my closet at home, I have this big box of art supplies. I love to collect them and then put them in this box. Maybe you know something of what I am talking about. And sometimes I look in the box, and I see all these amazing materials waiting for inspiration. I hesitate. I walk away, waiting for another opportunity. I tell myself I don’t have an idea in this moment, and even if I did, it won’t be any good anyway. I am not an artist.
That is why this video we just watched resonates so deeply with me. It was a balm to my inner creative critic that tells me I am not good enough.
This Lent, I invite us to reflect on these questions: What are the obstacles, the barriers, the thoughts, the messages that prevent us from living a creative life? A life where we reflect the Imago Dei… being created in the image of God. I think Jesus would have known something of my good question this morning as he went to the edge-lands, the desert place and confronted his humanity, his fears, and strengthened himself for his public and highly scrutinized ministry to come.
Every Lent begins with this passage of Jesus, having been baptized by his cousin John, as he heads to the wilderness; the edge-lands as I have come to call this auspicious place, a liminal time between what has been and what is not yet. This location Jesus heads to is somewhere between his baptism in the Jordan River and his ministry’s ultimate destination of Jerusalem. There in this edge-land place, Jesus is confronted with his fears. He faces humanity’s fears. He faces the core anxieties that ask: How will I be nourished? How will I be cared for? How will I get enough to thrive? Will I have enough money? Enough power?.
The tempter of the story picks up on Jesus’ fears and challenges his identity as a child of God. You’re hungry? Why don’t you just take that stone over there and turn it into a loaf of bread. If you have superpowers, why don’t you just throw yourself down off the top of this temple and see who catches you? You want to be the ruler of the world? Come and work for me. But Jesus, full of the Spirit, resists. Jesus responds with his truth, that he can center himself in the Holy and live a life of humility and from a place of abundance rather than the fear of scarcity, of not having enough.
This Lent, instead of focusing on depravity which typically shapes this slow season and lengthening of days towards the spring equinox and the arrival of our Holy Week, I invite us to consider what we are bringing. The new beginning we receive every time we take up a creative endeavor, knowing we are made Imago Dei… in God’s image. Our world is full of deconstruction. We have forgotten what it is to live in our imaginations, to daydream, to create something beautiful. It is rather like going to the edge-lands, that set away place that place where you go to reconnect with yourself and the holy mystery.
It is within all of us. Maybe you exercise creativity in the way you prepare a special meal, or lay out blocks for a quilt and pick up a needle and thread; the musical instrument that remains silent until you touch it or bring it to your lips; the chunk of clay that spins between your wet and muddy hands on a potter’s wheel; the image you view through a lens of your camera before you press the shutter; the paintbrush that knows no final destination only a palette of colors waiting to be come to life on your canvas. Let us make this Lent a creative one because the world needs this.
We need to construct meaning to life once again. We need to create dialogues to foster conversations of understanding one another. Let us face our fears and insecurities around not feeling like we have enough or are enough. May we wrestle with getting out our craft supplies, sitting in the quiet, in the presence of divine mystery and make something beautiful. I hope we will use these next six weeks to give some space to this and I look forward to hearing about your crafting pursuits. The world needs us to build up something rather than take it down. Just make a DOT… and see where it takes you.