By Phillip Breden
John 3:1-17 NRSV
As we travel through this Lenten journey this year, alone or with friends and family, many of us take up more traditional practices, while others are trying new things. A common practice is to give up some kind of privilege or luxury to make more time for spiritual contemplation or practice. Others enjoy the challenge of listening for the Spirit to inspire them into a new practice—something different from what they have experienced in years past. Last week we read about Jesus entering the wilderness to be tempted, and Joan introduced a theme of creativity and the hesitancy that we are often faced with when we think of acting on it. Like Joan, I have various art supplies and musical instruments that I wish I had the courage and dedication to use more. Where do those inspirations come from, and how can we find the courage to finally unpack those boxes and put our creativity into practice? Perhaps part of the answer comes from the very word “inspiration”.
In-spire. To breathe in and be filled with the Spirit. The Breath of God. In the book of Genesis, it is said that God breathed life into humanity. Where does the inspiration come from? When you experience a creative inspiration, it seems to come out nowhere, and unfortunately many don’t have the courage to act on it. We fear not being good enough. We are afraid of falling short of our own high expectations. We are our own worst critic. A lot of us find our creative inspiration from the wilderness, from the edge lands. We will actively seek out nature as a muse for creativity: gazing out at a fiery sunset or watching a cascading waterfall. The edge lands, liminal places between the wilds and civilization have a power to inspire us and are strong places where we can experience God’s self-revelation in creation.