Creativity is a second facet of the human spirit (the first facet, discussed in the previous post, is the aesthetic sense – the six facets do not constitute any particular hierarchy or pattern and the numbering is strictly a matter of convenience).
Creativity connotes a person using her/his limited autonomy to imagine and then to choose in a different manner than predicted. That is, creating entails arranging items in novel or unexpected patterns. Although closely linked to limited autonomy, neither creativity nor limited autonomy completely maps the other because creativity emphasizes a novelty not intrinsic to limited autonomy. Art, inventions, written compositions, oral narratives, and new structures are all among the ways in which humans manifest creativity.
Every creative endeavor gives birth to something new. Thus, creativity is one of the intersections between the human spirit and ethics. Is that which a person creates life giving or life destroying? For a severely traumatized person, creativity may afford an opportunity to express and thereby to unleash safely a demonic (i.e., destructive and death dealing) infestation. This can initiate the healing process and make room for the indwelling of God's Spirit and new life.
All humans are creators. At a minimum, each human creates a unique life for her or himself. Is the life that you are creating for yourself one that leads deeper into mystery and the wonderful tapestry that we call the cosmos? Alternatively, is the life that you are creating for yourself one that stays in the shallows, afraid of the depths, and content to taste without indulging?
Creativity points toward hope. Humans are not hamsters condemned to spending their days running inside a wheel going nowhere. Instead, the novelty that human creativity introduces into the cosmos is suggestive of both a creator (God) and the possibility that creation has meaning and an aim.
Creativity is also time-consuming work. Creativity does not just happen. The creative person intentionally devotes time to an endeavor, repeatedly rearranges the items (i.e., colors, materials, notes, words, etc.) utilized, and eventually discerns the emergence of new patterns. What appears spontaneous – a maestro sight-reading music for the first time who nonetheless performs it with a fresh interpretation – is in fact the product of a lifetime of learning and effort.
Consequently, spiritual disciplines that may nurture the creative aspect of the human spirit are those disciplines that spark new thoughts, feelings, or actions, particularly when those thoughts, feelings, or actions birth new life, lead one deeper into mystery, or are wellsprings of hope. These spiritual disciplines include:
- Regularly engaging in an art or craft, broadly constructing both of those terms to encompass painting, sculpture, music, writing, cooking, carpentry, knitting, and much, much more
- Taking lessons, studying, or practicing an art or craft
- Committing to a new pattern in a relationship, e.g., marriage, celibacy, friendship, or collegiality. One good measure of creativity is the degree to which the new pattern births new life instead of death or pain. At their best, norms such as marital fidelity offer helpful guidance on the likely outcome of upholding or deviating from a particular behavioral pattern. A new pattern of friendship may entail maintaining a clear boundary to end exploitative aspects of the relationship or becoming emotionally vulnerable to permit greater levels of intimacy. A new pattern of relating to a colleague may require substituting respect for disrespect, demonstrating greater trust through increased delegation, or establishing fair mechanisms of accountability that treat the other as a mature, responsible adult.
- Regularly playing, i.e., giving what Eric Berne called the inner child time and space in which to surface in ways that are constructive, renewing, and creative. Part of the allure of games, including life action role playing, much online gaming, and some board games, is that playing a game authorizes the inner child to come to the fore, with the gamer temporarily, and sometimes creatively, setting aside at least some of her/his inhibitions, usual behaviors, and so forth.