On the Origins of Creativity, continued

In yesterday’s meditation we considered how science recognizes wildness to be intrinsic to creativity in the universe and how a dance between chaos and order brings creativity to life. 

The “Edge Effect” in permaculture: greater diversity of life in the region where the edges of two adjacent ecosystems overlap, such as land/water, or forest/grassland. Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

Architect Charles Jencks, in his book The Architecture of the Jumping Universe, explains that the universe operates “on the edge between order and chaos.”  He elaborates: “This boundary condition, more simply put ‘the edge of chaos,’ is now understood to be the place of maximum complexity and computability, the only place where life and mind can emerge….Everything in nature and culture is pushed toward this creative edge by evolutionary pressure, by natural selection and internal dynamics.”  We are all invited to live at the “creative edge.”

Hildegard of Bingen’s self-portrait of her awakening by the Holy Spirit and her response by way of writing. Miniature from the Rupertsberger Codex of the Liber Scivias.

Theologically speaking, creativity is the work of the Holy Spirit.  All are co-creators with that Spirit, which as Aquinas says “hovers over the mind of the artist at work.” 

Jungian psychologist Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes also names wildness as an integral part of our creative powers.  In her classic work Women Who Run With the Wolves, she names the “Wild Woman as “patroness to all painters, writers, sculptors, dancers, thinkers, prayer makers, seekers, finders—for they are all busy with the work of invention, and that is the Wild Woman’s main occupation.  As in all art, she resides in the guts, not in the head…. She is the one who thunders after injustice.”  Yes, our creativity is born in our guts, our third chakra, where, among other things, we house our moral outrage and our grief.

The Wild Woman carries us beyond mere coping or mere surviving to thriving. And thriving means, among other things, creating. 

Sometimes we become a “lone wolf” in the process of thriving, we find ourselves “standing on the edge, [which] means one is practically guaranteed to make an original contribution, a useful and stunning contribution to her culture.”  Solitude is so often a part of creativity—the Via Negativa that empties us so we are ready to give birth anew.  Solitude is edgy.

Paloma Cervantes, Mexican shaman. Photo by Paloma Cervantes, Wikimedia Commons

So essential is our courage at this point that we can say, according to Estes: “If you have ever been called defiant, incorrigible, forward, cunning, insurgent, unruly, rebellious, you’re on the right track.  Wild Woman is close by.  If you have never been called these things, there is yet time.  Practice your Wild Woman.”  And men, practice your wild man.

See Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, p. 309. 
Also Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet, pp. 152f.
Banner Image: “Lakeside Path” Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

It seems that the Wild Woman (and Wild Man) is integral to our creativity—after all the Spirit with whom we co-create is Wild and beyond imagination.  How do you make room for this wildness in your life?  How do you receive it when it arrives and express it in the choices you make and do not make?  Have you been called “defiant, insurgent, rebellious?”  Are you on the right track?

Recommended Reading

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.

Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.

An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition.  At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them. “If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.”  – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.

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