Spiritual Practices in a time of pandemic: collective creativity

Are you feeling creative in these times of physical distancing? Rev Dr David Ferguson, Presbytery Officer for the Uniting Church WA, shares some ideas and inspiration for how we can collectively create while we are physically apart.

The desire to create is one of the great human impulses.

There is a simple joy in making something with your hands, be it as simple as the act of hand-writing a note to a friend, making craft items, planting a garden or even creating pieces of art. We are created to enjoy such simple pleasures.

I am also sure that we can all think of great artistic works that help us connect with God, whether they be images, sculptures, plays, movies or pieces of music. We give thanks to God for the gift of imagination that we each are a recipient of.

I have been hearing of some lovely ways in which joining in creative acts is helping to gather communities together. My mother-in-law is a participant in a quilting group that usually gets given a challenge each month and gather to compare what they have crafted at the end. As they can no longer gather, they are now each making a mystery quilt – a leader is sending them a list of instructions each month that they each are following to make something together, yet apart.

In another example, two of my nephews receive a Lego challenge from one of their cousins each morning that they seek to build before they have a video call that evening.

These ideas put me to thinking as to whether there are things we can do with our minds and hands that connect us with God and also with one another, and also ones which those who have the freedom to be mobile can share with those who are self-isolating.

Do you have a group of friends who are poets in your congregation or across congregations? Would they be willing to share their work with each other, and maybe even with their congregations?

Are our worship leaders looking for good pictures to use as backgrounds for their video presentations? What would it look like if each week they gave a theme to use as a topic for a photographic challenge for all those members of their congregation that now have a camera in their pocket? Or could they seek to commission a piece of visual or musical art to celebrate a particular celebration in the life of the church?

Would the gardeners in a congregation be willing to plant seeds and/or cuttings in hope towards an eventual garden sale? Would the crafty members of a congregation be more enthusiastic to exercise their practical giftedness to make some scarves for those who need warming into winter, or even to make knitted blocks to be combined into light blankets for those who need them?

Would some, like one congregation I have heard of, like to make and freeze some meals to deliver to those who are stuck at home when they drop off their newsletter and services? Would your Lego builders like to build illustration scenes for a children’s address or even branch into stop motion video?

I hope you can see that God has given us all an urge to create, plus skills and imagination whose use can draw us and others towards God. I would encourage us to all consider how we can also use these to draw them together.

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