The poet Luci Shaw, in her essay for the third Wednesday of Advent in God with Us: Discovering the Meaning of Advent, observes that “we are created to create.” Among the creative acts that she lists are decorating a Christmas tree or an Easter egg, decorating a living room, planting a garden, photographing scenery, whistling, singing, and dancing.
We can all add our individual acts of creation to that list. Jody knits and sews. Our daughter-in-law creates beautiful portrait photographs. Our son creates essays on science and faith. Our son-in-law creates community spirit through his activism, and our daughter helps to restore wholeness and beauty in the lives of young women facing pregnancy in difficult circumstances.
A few days ago I created a basic pea soup, using the ham shank that was left from our Christmas dinner, and I sit this evening hoping to mix together the ingredients of a decent piece of prose.
Our family’s works of creation will win few awards or accolades, but that does not matter. In the act of creating or producing we seek to be a part of the redemptive, restorative process. We seek to make things of beauty, value, or substance rather than just consuming such things.
In our lifetimes Christmas has become the ultimate festival of consumption, and so I was pleased to see among the gifts that we gave and received this year some that were made by the generous hands of people we know. A tin of homemade almond chocolate toffee came from a student in Jody’s class, as did a tin of homemade caramels, and another of homemade chocolate-covered pretzels and Oreos. Hand-knitted scarves, hats, and mittens passed through our home on their way from giver to recipient. So did hand-sewn children’s clothing. A colleague of Jody’s blessed us with a jar of homemade blueberry jam.
The new year is before us and each new day provides us with the opportunity to create, or to help restore beauty and value to the people, places, and things around us. The Advent and Christmas season are behind us, but as we reflect on the central story of Advent and Christmas we recall that God became flesh and lived among us. In this incarnation God elevated human existence and the creation we inhabit to a place of inestimable value.
God elevated the work of carpenters, of construction workers, by being born among them. God in human flesh might have built homes and barns. His birth was announced to shepherds, who might have whiled away the long night hours keeping watch over their flocks by piping and singing simple tunes. He summoned as his disciples men whose living was made in securing sustenance, in creating meals, from the sea. After he rose from the grave he himself prepared one such meal for his disciples on the shore of the sea where they had returned to ply their trade.
What will you create this day, this week? A homemade meal? A written note to encourage a friend facing some difficulty or to express your appreciation for an act of kindness? Will you paint a room, clean a neglected space, or plant some seeds when the weather warms? Can you write a letter to your local newspaper to call attention to injustice?
Would you be courageous and post a note here about what you have created?
Thank you for stopping by. May you enjoy your time of creating, regardless of how ordinary you think it might seem to others.