vendredi 25 décembre 2020

Creativity: listening and imagination

What is creativity and where does it come from?

As believers we recognize that it comes from God because we were created in his image. We carry in us creativity.

Some have artistic creativity, most in other areas. All are not artists but all are creative.

Everyone has a share of creativity. God has given us what corresponds to us. You have to choose to start somewhere. To be light where we are. It can simply mean offering a coffee or giving a smile!

If we have known the goodness of God, we soon discover that our creativity feeds on communion with him.

We cannot go without taking time in the presence of God.

And what happens in the presence of God?

He allows or enables  us to hear and to see !

Sounds and lights!

I would like to talk about the importance of listening and imagination in creativity.


Creativity and listening

The artist or craftsman is someone who has responded to a call from God. The ways by which God calls are many. We cannot put the call of God in a box. Sometimes it takes a long time to answer.

I know an artist who took 25 years to decide to devote himself to his art. Sooner or later, an answer will be given, because with time the inner call becomes stronger and stronger.

I want to emphasize the importance of listening in creativity: everything starts with it. To be able to respond to a vocation, one must first listen to God who is speaking.

But does God speak? If it has not totally evacuated him, modernity has put God in the margins. Especially in the field of the arts, the realm of subjectivity.

Modern art is anthropocentric, centered on man. And sometimes even dehumanized. Centered not on the man, but on objects, things.

Our time can be symbolized by George Perec's novel "The Things", where he deals with the pursuit of happiness through consumerism. The characters are materialistic and their need to buy is infinite. Art without heart can become materialistic, greedy, a capturer,a seducer.

But God speaks. He keeps talking from the beginning. "In the beginning is the Word". The problem is not with the transmitter, but with the receiver, with us. The artist is a person who listens to God talking to him through various channels.

When we listen to him, God acts. When we pray, God listens. How to listen? Where to listen? These are two essential questions!

There are sources where we can listen to him: our heart, others, nature. He also speaks to us through the works of art of humanity, through other artists, whether they are Christians or not, because it is he who, at all times and in all latitudes, has "filled the human heart of joy”. (Acts 14,17)

The artist goes in search of this joy that God has poured into the artists who preceded him.

As Christians, it is in the scriptures that God speaks to us first and foremost. The Bible provides the framework for "examining all things and holding what is good" (1 Thess 5,19). It provides an inexhaustible reservoir of symbols and images.

To read it, to meditate on it, to pray it, to meet God to call, to inspire, to encourage us. Read it alone and with others.

Let us encourage one another to understand it by seeking Christ, the "Word" par excellence!


Creativity and imagination

Creativity feeds not only on listening but also on imagination, vision and contemplation.

In the texts on the construction of the Tabernacle, God said to Moses, "According to the pattern I am showing you of the Tent ... so you will do" (Exodus 25: 9).

Moses built the tabernacle according to the plan God made him see.

At the base of the construction of the tabernacle, there is an extraordinary visionary experience.

The artist is the one who climbs the mountain like Moses and contemplates what God gives him to see (or listen to). Or as in the case  on the mountain of transfiguration.

The creator, like Betsalel, whose name means "in the shadow of the Almighty," ascends the mountain to reflect . (Ex. 31)

The creator invokes the Holy Spirit to "cover him with his shadow" as he covered Mary, the mother of Jesus, with his shadow. (Luke 1,35)

Mary is the greatest creator who ever lived, since she gave life to the creator who became a creature! Artists from  all time have not yet finished singing his "yes", painting it and composing the most beautiful poems!

Like Moses, Bezalel created the objects of the tabernacle from images that were in heaven.

If God has given him these images, he can also give  some to us to create  poetry, painting, music. We can ask for images and songs.

Because God wants to bring creativity to the earth. He wants his beauty to dwell on the earth just as it fills heaven. One day he will bring it definitively when the heavenly Jerusalem descends to earth (Revelation 21,2). But, as if by anticipation, he gives this beauty on the earth. Artistic beauty is a sign of the beauty of Paradise.

Imagination is a faculty given by God, as well as our intelligence and will. It must be used but also  sanctified.

I therefore encourage you to ask God for pictures, to help  you hear songs and poems.

I encourage you to pray to the Holy Spirit to sanctify your imagination.

It is said of Johann Sebastian Bach that he heard the singing of angels. Bach often climbed "on the mountain" to have intimacy with God.

The artist is able to use his imagination  imagine because he is created in the image of God. "Before being an art worker, man is a work of art, a masterpiece, a leader of the works of God, because he/she is made  in the image of God" (François Cassingena, La Liturgie : Art et Métier, Ad Solem, 2007).

But it is necessary to nourish this imagination by a life of prayer, by times of spiritual retreat, by  meeting with other disciples of Jesus, because "where two or three are gathered in his name, he is in our midst". And when he is there, he gives us an idea, a vision or an image.

Imagination has not only an individual dimension, but also a collective one. It is not only the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, but also the presence of Christ among us.

Hence the importance of taking time to get on the mountain, alone but also together, to make time for spiritual retreat   tie, to take  artistic courses, like those, for example, of Psalmodia in Gagnières (France), where it is possible to meet other artists. To go to "places of the Spirit" to renew his inspiration.

 We live between two fires: that of the Spirit in us and that of Christ among us. The life of the Christian artist is to dance between these two fires.

May the Holy Spirit lead us into this dance and form the soul of many artists to give beauty to the world, and more precisely, Jesus crucified and risen, the most beautiful son of man!

May the Church be a place that liberates creativity and encourages a creative culture!

May it take risks with  artists!


A prayer for artists

Lord, you are beauty.

Through the beauty of here below you communicate with us, or rather we can come  back to you, source of all beauty.

We ask you to form the soul of great artists so that they express your beauty.

Call them by their name, meet with them and establish them in you. Give them all the charisma you have in store for them.

May they live in a community that knows how to recognize them, encourage them and order their art works.

Grant them a thousand opportunities to portray in their craft and to persevere in their hard work with the strength of your creative and liberating Spirit.

Give them above all knowledge of your name, you Jesus, the most beautiful son of men.

Draw them to you in the shadow of your cross where you revealed your beautiful love when there was nothing in you to attract us to you our eyes.

Draw them to you, in the sun of your resurrection, and as one united    in your name, manifest the beauty of your presence among us. 


Martin Hoegger


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