Monday, November 30, 2020

Embrace Your Creative Gifts

 


 

Do you think of yourself as being a creative person? All too often we compartmentalize creativity, making it the realm of artists, musicians, and writers. In reality, we are all called to be creative in some way. God is the great Creator. Scripture tells us that we are made in the image and likeness of God. As such, that creativity is an innate part of what it means to be human. We are all invited to contribute to the ongoing story of creation.

In my new book, The Work of Our Hands: The Universal Gift of Creativity, I invite you to reflect on the universal God-given gift of creativity and the ways that you can embrace that gift in your own life. It is a thirty-one day devotional which you can use one day each for a month or simply pick it up whenever you need a creative boost.

This project has truly been a labor of love. As someone with degrees in both art and theology, I have always been interested in how faith and creativity intersect, informing and complementing each other. When I began working on the project a few years ago, I was focused on emphasizing the spiritual value of what we consider “traditional” creative pursuits such as art and music. As I researched and contemplated, however, I realized that we are all given the gift of creativity and that we all have the responsibility to use our creative power well. The Work of Our Hands reflects that mindset.

I also wanted to create a beautiful book, something that is a delight to look at as well as inspirational to read. It was a joy to choose visual images to accompany the text. I owe Carol Anne Pirog of https://www.carolpirog.com/ a debt of thanks for creation of the eye-catching cover.

It is my humble hope that those who read The Work of Our Hands will come to a greater appreciation of the wonderful gift of creativity that God has given each one of us. 

Here is one of the reflections:

 



Made in the Image of God

 And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth. – Gen 1:27-28

What does it mean that we are made “in the image of God?” It means that we are invited to share in God’s love and creative power.

While God alone has the power to give life and to create from nothing, we are called to co-create with Him. Perhaps the highest form of this calling comes in cooperating with God to bring children into this world. While not everyone’s vocation involves physical parenthood, our fundamental complementarity as male and female is made for that role. It is both an awesome gift and a responsibility. As we raise the next generation, we are called to teach them about God and about their own responsibility to help build up the world. Most of our lives may seem relatively insignificant in the whole story of the world, but we each have a role to play.

In his Letter to Artists, St. John Paul II stated, “With loving regard, the divine Artist passes on to the human artist a spark of his own surpassing wisdom, calling him to share in his creative power.” We are to use what God has given us to both care for and develop our world. This task is part of our fundamental purpose as human beings.

Prayer

Dear God, thank you for creating me in your image and for bestowing on me both the gift and responsibility of sharing in your creative power. Please help me to always use that power for good.

Action

Today, reflect on the gift of your own creation. Take time to appreciate the miracle of human life – our ability to breathe, move, think, and love. Remember that you are a unique gift of God, with the ability and responsibility to impact the world.


 

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Friday, November 27, 2020

Make Your Home a Sanctuary

 

This year has seen us spend more time at home than ever before. As a result, Theology of Home: Finding the Eternal in the Everyday and Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking are extremely relevant for our current situation. 



 

The first thing you notice about this set of books is that they are extremely beautiful. These hardcover books overflowing with full-color photographs are designed to be displayed. They are a delight for the eyes as well as the mind. While the photos show magazine-worthy spaces and capture perfect family moments, the authors make a point of noting that “carefully curated rooms and meticulously manicured yards are wonderful, but there is great wisdom in knowing that our houses don’t have to be lavish or even conventionally comfortable for them to be perfect.” Even if you feel that your home could never be magazine-worthy, there is something of value for you in these pages.

Theology of Home: Finding the Eternal in the Everyday focuses on making home not only a physically pleasing place, but also a refuge for the soul. It invites us to “think purposefully about how to make our homes on earth better equipped to get all those living in them to the Father’s house.” Our homes should be domestic churches, places “filled with the Father’s love.” Love, willing the good for the others who share our lives, should be at the center of all that we do in our homes.

Some of the ways we make our homes more inviting and places of refuge include through our use of light, food, order, comfort, and hospitality. Our homes should be places of safety, offering each person who dwells within “a deep assurance that we are known and loved in a way that is unshakeable.”

Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking focuses less on the physical environment and more on the person who creates the environment of the home. The word “homemaker” can have a negative connotation today, but the authors truly embrace and elevate the term, making it something even a career-minded woman can celebrate. Whether a woman works outside the home or not, she is still the heart of her home, the one who sets the tone for all who live there. There is a concerted effort in this book to highlight women of all walks and stages of life, focusing on what they do to make their houses homes.

Homemaking is “the deeply purposeful art of sheltering and nurturing the souls of others, offering them a place to grow into the people God intends them to be.” Some of the topics covered in these pages include being fruitful, contemplative, and resourceful. Themes of potential, facing obstacles, cultivating community, and gathering your (spiritual) harvest are also discussed. Perhaps the best feature in these pages are the profiles of individual women sharing their own different ways of being homemakers.

The Theology of Home books led me to a deeper understanding and renewed appreciation of what it means to cultivate a home. These books would be a lovely gift for any of the Catholic women in your life.

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