Creativity is often associated with artists and writers; yet each one of us, by virtue of being made in the image and likeness of the Divine Creator, has been endowed with creativity. Understanding how God expresses his own creativity in the context of his relationship with humankind gives us a glimpse into how we can use our own creativity to draw closer to God and others.
Genesis speaks of God breathing life into man and calling him “very good”. The Sistine Chapel ceiling depicts this moment with the finger of God outstretched toward the finger of Adam. The prophet Jeremiah speaks of man’s privileged place within the mind of God: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you” (Jer 1:5).
A sacred touch, a sacred breath, a sacred thought permeate the nature of man’s relationship with God. The sacredness of man’s existence springs forth from the moment of creation and reflects the image of God, inherent in each and every person. It is by virtue of being made in the image and likeness of God that we possess reason and freedom, which come together in our capacity for creativity. This creativity, understood in light of Christian anthropology and salvation history, is not so much a rare talent but a faculty we all possess, closely connected to our capacity for reason, love, and life.
All creation was thought of by God and willed and loved into existence. The moment the spirit hovered over the waters (Gen 1:2) and creation came to being was just the beginning. The communication of divine creativity continued through the trajectory of salvation history, with the Word, the Eucharist, and the Resurrection.
Creativity and the Word
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)” Long before the Son of God became man as Jesus, he was already present and active in creation as the logos, or Word, of God.
When speaking of Jesus as the Word, Pope Benedict XVI described logos, a term that encompasses the notion of thought, word, and plan, as: “a reason which is creative and capable of self-expression” (Regensburg Address).
As God creatively conceived and communicated his own being through the act of creation which brought forth something from nothing, he imbued creation with his divine attributes, orienting it toward the good, the true, and the beautiful.
As children of God, we too have been given capacity for creative reason and self-expression. Although unable to create from nothing, we create by working with pre-existing elements. In so doing, we participate in God’s creativeness and have the opportunity to further the good, the true, and the beautiful in our own lives and the world around us.
Creativity and the Eucharist
The Word of God became the Word Incarnate in a precise moment of history and, before returning to his Father, left us the perfection of his presence, creating a new, unfathomable way of remaining with us that is duly described as a divine mystery.
In the Eucharist, which defies rational comprehension, we find the perfect unity of God and man, both in the Person of Jesus and through our reception of him. We find the many and the One, the gathering of all to God, followed by the scattering of the same to go, bring him to all corners of life. “I” and the “we” come together in a single act and moment. It is a creative, generative, and constant source of unity and relationship.
Creativity helps us live our call to be a Eucharistic people to the full. Our own connection with the mystery of the Eucharist extends beyond the moment when we approach the Eucharistic altar, and finds further life through our own creative outreach, in which we ourselves, as part of the Body of Christ, become vessels of the Lord’s presence through our own relationships.
Creativity and the Resurrection
The Resurrection is, perhaps, the apex of divine creativity as expressed in salvation history. Through it, as St. Paul tells us: “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). In the Resurrection, God not only draws meaning out of suffering, and life out of death, but turns them inside out and transforms them into something radically different and life-giving.
Although our own final resurrection happens as a result of both God’s grace and our free participation in it, we can go through countless resurrections each and every day, and our creativity plays a key role in making this possible. Much of life is transactional, but resurrection is transformational. It isn’t about changing the unchangeable. It is about:
- accepting the truth of past and present and deciding what to make of it going forward.
- looking, very closely, to find God where he is in all aspects of our life or to make room for him where it has been too crowded.
- finding creative ways to communicate the image of God within us—living out our story with all its pain and beauty in a life-giving way.
Participating in God’s Creativity
As people of the Word, people of the Eucharist, and people of the Resurrection, we are called to be pro-active co-creators with God, who are nonetheless also aware that the extent of our creativity has limits and is really a sharing in God’s own creativity.
We experience a certain fullness of our interaction with the world around us, as well as of our own relationship with God when we are able to contain and nurture within us the tension between our creative ability and the awareness of our limitations, thus bringing the fullness of ourselves forward while at the same time knowing that we are not self-sufficient, but rely also upon that which is brought forth by others and ultimately, that which is outside the bounds of human control.
And yet, even when we cannot control certain circumstances and outcomes, we do still have within us both freedom and creativity and therefore have a say in how we interact and grow when faced with such circumstances. It is for good reason that St. Paul assures us that all things work for the good of those who love God. Even when we cannot control certain things in life, we can channel our thoughts and choices regarding how we interact and grow from such circumstances. When we use our capacity for creativity to this end, we give glory to God our Creator and live more fully our own humanity.