Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Golden threads and shiny silver snares
When we create, how much do we create and how much do we just discover that lies there, always, behind the ordinary, waiting to be revealed?
Most writers (and other artists) would love to be able to answer that question but none of us can, not definitively.
Creativity involves a shift in consciousness. It's sometimes so profoundly different from normal states that we become unaware of the ordinary world around us. It is as though we go somewhere else, to a place behind this one, the place that underpins this one .. other times the ordinary world becomes imbued with the stuff of that other place, the two worlds blend, so that this one sparkles as though lit from within.
Inspiration, then, can come from almost anywhere. It's not a matter of looking for it, but of allowing it to come at us. We open ourselves, let that heart-led sense bubble up from within and if we're lucky, if we're 'on', we catch a glimpse of something called the golden thread and follow it.
It's not only the artists and writers who do this, all of us experience something of it when our hearts are allowed to lead. It's in this way (I believe) the world behind the world reveals itself to us. For most of us, it's not necessary to capture what we discover in words or brush strokes or notes, it's enough to experience it. And for the artist the risk is always that the act of trying to capture and share the experience with others will break that delicate golden thread.
It's so painful when that happens. The worst part is not even knowing what we've done. Instead of following the thread where it will lead us, we get caught up in the words or the brush strokes or the colours, and while we might create something interesting enough, it's a snare. What we have created, all shiny and silver, is not what we were trying to reveal.
Ironically, it's the shiny silver snares that attract the readers and listeners; people don't want to be taken too far outside their comfort zone. Harry Potter style magic sells - the magic of dancing with Creation so that it offers up God's own magic doesn't. Nor should it, I suppose, and therein lies the rub. To make a living, the artist who longs to reveal the face of God faces difficult choices. The artist must live in this world yet remain not of this world, as they say.
Artists actually change the world. When we reveal the face of God here, the dance with Creation there, we're dangerous.
Today, even something as simple as baking one's own bread is a subversive act. "Thou shalt not cut out the middle man".
A recent visitor, swooning over my home made bread, swore on the spot that he would now learn to make his own and asked to see my bread making machine. I reached into the top kitchen drawer and brought out a wooden spoon. We all chuckled at the look on his face but inside, I wanted to weep. I knew he'd never do it now, and the silky texture of a ball of dough, the way it comes alive under one's hands, is a pleasure I wish for every human being.
Gadgets are shiny silver snares.
I want to weave my own life from the golden threads that form the basis of Life itself. I want the textures and the fragrances, the simplicity and the awe. Every time I make bread (and that's a couple or three times a week for the last several years) I feel that awe. It's only bread, sure, and yes by making it I am doing the "right" thing for our health by avoiding all the unpronounceable and questionable additives of supermarket bread but that's not why I do it.
I do it because it takes me into that altered state of consciousness, that place that underpins this one. The ordinary world becomes imbued with the stuff of that other place, the two worlds blend, so that this one sparkles as though lit from within .. and it becomes food.
See? It's a form of magic, even as it is the most ordinary of tasks. The raw materials of Creation, under my hands, become something else and then become part of me when I eat the bread. Missing that step, the actual creating of the food, robs us of the magic. Sure, you can buy excellent bread these days, but then the baker gets all the fun, the magical act is his.
I'm greedy, you see, I want that magic for myself. I want it for my husband; that love & magic from my hands to nourish his body.
That's why I've become so entangled in the world of plant medicine and wild food, the magic is there, too. (Ha! Is it ever ..!) That's why I practically evangelize the gospel of nettles & dandelion, so that the magic spreads through the hands of as many as I can convert, and into their bodies, and so, nourishes them.
I want that magic revealed to everyone. It is part of who we are, this creativity is the stuff of being human. It's not only the artists and writers and musicians who have that capacity to sense and follow the golden threads, it is everyone - or used to be. I see the consumer culture that ensnares us with gadgets and convenience as a danger to our very humanity.
Do I overstate my case again? I think not.
I want to re-frame how we see the mundane tasks that once made up a life. The stuff of Creation, worked by our own hands, turned into food or healing, brings us that much closer again to the Creator. It's our God given nature to be part of Creation in that way. It is not a "right" as we would call it now, but a responsibility, as in the ability to respond, one on one, to Life. No middle man.
Prayer and worship are not, nor were they meant to be, strictly cerebral activities. We can, and should, engage with God through our hearts and minds but also, I believe, with our hands. Granted, when Jesus said 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' He didn't mention bread-making, but he hardly had to in those days, now did he? He was speaking to people who had no choice but to eat what they made.
He also said "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
(Here I see one or two readers shaking their heads - "where is she going with this?")
I would put it to the readers to consider whether we, modern humans so removed from the nitty gritty experiences of human life, are even fully born into this world the first place?
Are we truly here any more? Where so many children are born by C-section or conceived in 'test tubes', so many drugs and 'foods' throughout our lifetimes warp our metabolisms and rob them of our connection to the planet on a microbial level, so little fresh air, the water full of danger, the stars no longer visible in the night sky .. need I go on? I think you see what I mean.
Consider, too, that we live this way by choice.
How much do we share of the human experience that the ancient Hebrews in Jesus' time knew? Little. If He were to address us, would He perhaps have additional advice? How can we see the kingdom of God when we can't even see the stars in the night sky?
Sure, I might be way off base here; I'm really just juggling some thoughts around with this post. Following some threads. I certainly don't mean to imply that anyone who doesn't or can't put their hands into the dough or the soil or the stinging nettles is a lesser human being. I simply want to offer up a glimpse of something that's missing from most of our lives, something that may be important to the human relationship with the Divine. We've divorced ourselves from the original forms of His gifts; removed our hands, the doing, the creating, from our lives. It's important to my relationship with God that I accept those gifts with my hands and create my life out of them, so I offer these thoughts to others, just in case.