Today’s Word: ‘Creativity’ as in… what is it?

Go ahead, try to define it. I’ll give you a minute.

When we try to define creativity we often do so by referencing something that someone else has done, something that someone else has made, something that someone else painted, something that someone else formed, brought together, something that someone else created. There’s a hesitancy for many of us, I believe, to actually include ourselves in the definition. Rare is the occasion that someone asks us to define creativity and we respond,

“Well, hey, how about this IKEA bookshelf I just put together!”

Why is that so rare? Why is it so rare that we point to ourselves as an integral part of the creative definition (Sorry IKEA). Why are we so quick to point away from the creativity within us?

If we’ve been created to be creative (and I believe we have), and if we bear the image of the Creator (and I believe we do), why wouldn’t we point to the Creator’s on-going creative work in us? Most of us have probably had some experience of watching someone else “be creative” and thinking: “How on earth do they do that?” Or maybe we’ve wondered out loud: “Where does that come from?” or… “I could never do that, I’m just not that creative!” Or worse, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body. I could never do something like that!” Notice that the harsher the statement the more it’s connected to our view of ourselves as creative people. So what is the “that” that we refer to? Our small group was wrestling with this question of creativity.

We were trying to define it when one of our friends shared the experience of having asked this question in another setting. The conversation went back and forth for a while until one of them said this in response to “What is creativity: “Where something wasn’t, is…” (go ahead, read that again and just let it sit for a moment.)

“Where something wasn’t, is…” That’s really good, actually.

That’s really creative!




SensitivityToday’s Word: ‘sensitivity’ … as in it takes a bit of spirited (spiritual) sensitivity to become aware of these “Surely-the-Lord-is-in-this-place-and-I-did-not-know-it!” moments.

Just like our eyes adjusting to the light or the darkness, there is a process of training ourselves to be aware of how and where Spirit/God/the Divine is moving – in both the light and dark places.

And in the places in between.

We’ve explored moments like these in the context of ‘thin places’ – as our Celtic sisters and brothers have taught us. But again, there is a caveat: “God sightings” or “God moments” leaves the door open to the idea that if we don’t see God, or don’t know how to talk about “God showing up” it’s easy to think that God is not at work, or didn’t show up.

God is always at work and always present and always in and always with and always for us.


That’s what Jacob gave language to when he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!”

What language do you have to describe the ongoing Presence of God among us?



SurelyToday’s Word: ‘Surely’ … as in “Surely the LORD is in this place—and I did not know it!”

There’s a fascinating story in the Hebrew scriptures about a man name Jacob. He’s on the run. Jacob is avoiding his brother Esau who hates him because Jacob tricked his father, Isaac, into agreeing that Jacob could be in charge of the land of Canaan when Isaac died. It should have been Esau’s job. He was born first. So when Esau realized he’d been duped, he goes ballistic, then goes after Jacob. So Jacob takes the back road to Haran. He stops for the night and uses a rock for a pillow. He falls asleep and has a dream. Of course he has a dream. That’s the way these things work. In his dream, Jacob receives a powerful promise from God:

“Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

When Jacob wakes up he says, “Surely the LORD is in this place—and I did not know it!”

Let’s just stop right there. Let me ask you: Could there possibly be a place where God is not? Go ahead. I’ll wait…

The temptation is to only connect God’s presence and activity with “the big things.” You know, like big rescues, big happenings, big super-sized unexplainable events that are so big only God could be in them. But when we do that, we miss out on God’s presence in all of the little things as well.

I’ll say it plainly: there is no place where God is not. So in this story when we’re told that “Jacob wakes up from his sleep” that just might point to the truth that Jacob “woke up” to the fact that God was always with him. We often ask, “Where did you see God show up?”

Maybe the real question is whether or not we are showing up to what God is already doing.


Summer (part 4)

Summer 4.4Today’s Word: ‘Summer’ … as in where did it go?

So that’s the letter from the parents to their child. A poignant reminder of what I’ve always referred to as “the high cost of loving so deeply.”

Our summer has fled. Perhaps there is a sense of growing-pain for some. For others, a summer fled along with the change in tree colors and temperatures means new directions, new opportunities, new hope. But whatever the depth of feeling, whatever the range of emotion, perhaps as the writer of the letter put it, and perhaps as the parents whose hands I squeezed would hope to believe, the good news of the Gospel touches us precisely at these moments; moments upon which we shall one day look back and say, “Wow, it seems like only yesterday! So much has happened since then!”


Summer (part 3)

Summer 1.3Today’s Word: ‘Summer’ … as in where did it go?

“My heart aches for you. I miss not having you close at this time of year when so much seems to be changing. Yet, in the midst of all of this there is a certain kind of … well, growing pain, I feel that isn’t so terribly unbearable. In fact, I’m learning to cherish that growth. And I hope you will learn to cherish that growing pain too, because it’s as much a part of you as all of the good times have been and always will be. Cherish those feelings NOW, explore them, before your roommate comes back and rustles around a bit before settling in for the night. And then after you’ve had that moment with the thoughts of a summer fled, then turn your thoughts ahead, to the busy, brighter, people-filled days you’ll soon be slipping through, and remember, it is to those moments that in time you’ll return and say, “Wow, it seems like only yesterday! So much has happened since then!”

I love you. I love you to the moon and back. Twice. P.S. Don’t forget to lay out your clothes for the first day of classes. And remember to say your prayers before you go to sleep.”


Summer (part 2)

Summer 2.4Today’s Word: ‘Summer’ … as in where did it go?

I ran across an old letter from some parents to their child who had somehow grown out of diapers and into adolescence, out of rebellion and into responsibility, out the house and into life as a self-sustaining individual heading into the first semester of college. The letter was written at about this time of year on one of those days when paying close attention to the seemingly insignificant paid off. Today, and for the next couple, we’ll spend a little time in this letter:

“Hey Kiddo, I passed a school bus full of kids on my walk today. It’s the first day of classes for these sad, excited, tired, anxious and forlorn faces. Summer dreams turned to memories must be packed away, put on the shelf in a closet as the seriousness of school becomes the talk around kitchen tables all over town. No matter how much these kids anticipate the little thrills that await them—from new books and pencils, lunch boxes, new shoes, and multi-pocketed backpacks to checking out the cute little girls or boys in the next row of seats—while they’re on that big, rumbling, clumsy yellow bus, the sadness of a summer fled is all that matters to them. You, there in the dorm won’t have that same drowsy, rattled trip over railroad tracks and through neighborhoods to get to your classes. But I’m sure that during the first week there, at school, in the evening, when you’re still not settled in, or quite comfortable with the way the carpet squares and lofted bunk beds fit the room you’ve been given—and your roommate is out of the room for a while and the halls are beginning to quiet for the evening, you too will have that same sad feeling of a summer fled. My heart aches for you…”

[to be continued…]


Summer (part 1)

Summer 1.4Today’s Word: ‘Summer’ … as in where did it go?

There’s been a change; we’ve had a shift in the rhythms of life over these past weeks. Most families have shifted from summer mode to Back-to-School mode and the summer days we were just recently floating through have taken on a new kind of urgency. We’re just now getting ourselves wrapped around new rhythms for a new season.

I embraced a family last Sunday morning. They, like moms and dads all over the community were feeling the ache of “letting go.” Their ‘baby’ had grown up, had become educated – to some degree, had matured, had fallen in and out of love a couple of times, had grown into and out of countless styles of clothing – and winter coats. Their ‘baby’ had laughed and cried with a handful of really good friends through the years, had finally graduated from High School and decided to follow some dreams that had been encouraged and nurtured along the way. It was only for a moment, but as I stopped to say hello and looked into their eyes I could tell that these parents had been wondering how graduation from High School last spring had become such a distant memory so quickly; how quickly the month of September, that was once months in the future, was now finally upon them.

As I slowly walked away, wishing them peace in that moment, I couldn’t help think of my own granddaughters’ relatively recent entrance into the world of Elementary School. All I could think of was how fast these days go! How fast these years go! Who might it be who takes my hand a dozen years from now and says “Wow, it seems like only yesterday! So much has happened since then!”

[To Be continued…]