Creativity is at the heart of our being human beings.
Among the songs of the Mesoamerican peoples are the following hymns about the Toltecatl artists.
The true artist, capable, practicing, skillful,
maintains dialogue with his heart, meets things with his mind.
The true artist draws out all from his heart.
The good painter is wise,
God is in his heart.
He puts divinity into things;
he converses with his own heart.
Notice the role that the heart plays in creativity. Dialog with the heart, drawing “all” from the heart, God residing in the heart, conversing with one’s own heart—all this is integral to the work of the artist, the work of creativity.
One poet described himself and his creative process in the following manner.
Who am I?
I live flying.
I compose hymns, my heart relishes them.
I sing the flowers:
butterflies of song.
They leap forth from within me,
my heart relishes them.
I have arrived among the people,
I have come down,
I, the bird of spring….
My song arises over the earth,
my song bursts out.
Dona Marimba Richards, in her iconic book, Let the Circle Be Unbroken: The Implications of African Spirituality in the Diaspora, recognizes the profound spirituality of community imagination and makes explicit the link in the African spiritual consciousness between ritual, music, and the making of community.
Few have understood what music is to us. Black music is sacred music. It is the expression of the divine within us.
She emphasizes how music connects the African soul to the cosmic powers and the divine spirit within those powers Through music and ritual, cosmos, Divinity, and the human get it together. Ontologically,
…we gain meaning, force, and being through relationship with the universal life force; by feeling ourselves to be a part of the whole. Our music manifests that relationship, as it puts us in tune with the universe. It explains to us the mysterious workings of the universe and ourselves as cosmic being…. As in ritual, in music the human and the Divine meet.
Dance brings spirit and soul together in a cosmic context.
Through dance we experience reality as immediate to us; that is, we are identified with the universe…. We have experienced cosmic interrelationship… Dance, for us, is a religious expression.
When we dance, through Rhythm, we express ourselves as cosmic beings. Music transcends us to ultimate realities. Dance and Song; Rhythm and Music, then, are part of the matrix of the African Universe.
Richards names the black experience in the Americas as a “nothingness” experience that was transformed by way of creativity. Nothingness was not achieved through meditation but through politics and degradation.Slavery stripped the African to the bone.
The African universe was disrupted…. the benefits of African culture were stripped away—not one by one—but brutally, in one sudden and total act. Family, language, kinship patterns, food dress in one sudden and total act. Family, language, kinship patterns, food, dress and formalized religion were gone. What replaced them was the order of slavery. The objective of the new order was to demonstrate our lack of value.
Creativity saves; it heals; it moves beyond boundaries.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells, pp. 228, 240.
Also see Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet.
Banner Image: Untitled. By Sofia Coeli on Nappy.co.
Do you find yourself dialoging with your own heart? Putting divinity into things when you create?
Do you find that creativity heals and saves yourself and your communities?
One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths
Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit
Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet
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.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow. Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Living in Sin