One of the goals I’ve created for myself this church year is to keep the creativity that was inspired by my sabbatical time in clear view. I want to remember the joy, the beauty, the gifts, that were gathered up and rediscovered there. For the most part, I’ve realized I just don’t have time to keep up with many of those practices—my singing classes, my ukulele lessons—there just aren’t enough hours in the day to be able to fit them in.
But a few spiritual practices that I began prior to or during my sabbatical I have kept. Last fall, I began a photo-taking practice that now feels very essential to my creative spirit. I’ve managed to integrate it into my daily routine, finding that there is always room to experience beauty or discover a new angle on a view not previously noticed. I take the photos, make editing adjustments, and post them to at least three different online groups.
My dear friend and colleague, Rev. Michelle Favreault, who is a member of SKUUC, leads with a mantra: “Fixing is reactive. Ministry is creative.” This is a good thing for ministers to remember, but when we think of ministry as something shared by us all, the reminder that “ministry is creative” helps us take what I believe is a healthier approach to the problems that we face, both at church, and in the other aspects of our lives.
In church, we often struggle with the “problem-saturated story” that focuses on who or what has been wrong. The story gets bigger and deeper and it keeps us from seeing the larger perspective. Leadership guru Ron Heifetz suggests finding the “balcony view” that allows us to step up off the court and find a more removed view. We can stand outside the problem and see it a little more clearly.
During the time the Jewish people were in exile, the prophet Jeremiah refused to succumb to despair. He said, “Build houses to dwell in; plant gardens, and eat their fruits…Promote the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you; pray for it to the Lord, for upon its welfare depends your own.”
When I look at my world from a balcony perspective I see possibility. Like my photo practice. Apples on the table are beautiful abundance. Rows of green picnic tables next to the community little league fields are welcome tables. The eucalyptus from behind are a completely different grove than from the west-side dawn. My patio in early evening is another place completely than in the morning light. And I am finding room to see all of these views, in the every day.
Creativity allows us to see more clearly, to not be so attached to a problem, to step out for another perspective. May our shared ministry be creative.