The Liminal Space of CREATIVITY ~ Cindy Elliott

The power stored up within man is exceedingly great, is all-encompassing, but all too often it slumbers within and does not bestir itself from its deep sleep. The command of creation, beating deep within the consciousness…proclaims: Awake ye slumberers from your sleep. Realize, actualize yourselves, your own potentialities and possibilities, and go forth to meet your G-d. The unfolding of man’s spirit that soars to the very heavens, that is the meaning of creation…Action and creation are the true distinguishing marks of authentic existence.

– Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man, 132

Bereishit barah Elokim
In the beginning, G-d created…

 If the Torah then chose to relate to man the tale of Creation, we may clearly derive one law from this manner of procedure -viz, that man is obliged to engage in creation and the renewal of the cosmos. [1]

Made in the image of a creative G-d, an expression of His ahavat olam, unending love, each of us is a creative being with an immense potential to make an impact on our world. We may not see in our clumsy expressions the creative genius and beauty of G-d, but just as our Creator, we were made to create. But unlike our Creator – we weren’t made to create alone. We were made to create in collaboration with our Abba Father.

Abraham Joshua Heschel notes [2]:

Authentic faith is more than an echo of a tradition. It is a creative situation, an event. For G-d is not always silent, and man is not always blind. In every man’s life there are moments when there is a lifting of the veil at the horizon of the known, opening a sight of the eternal.

For those of faith, intentional creativity springs from the heart of G-d, not measured by the values of the world but by the values of Heaven. Inspired not by the fame of the world, but from Heaven’s touch. It is the special work – unique to each of us – to bring into existence that which our Abba intended from the day of our conception.

Watching the dark my spirit rose in flood
On that most dearest Prelude of my delight.
The low-lying mist lifted it hood,
The October stars showed nobly in clear night,

When I return, and to real music making,
And play that Prelude, how will it happen then?
Shall I fear as I felt, a sentry hardly walking.
With a dull sense of No Man’s Land again? [3]

But, too often we ignore that touch, that stir to our hearts. We are stunted by our fears. Fears of comparison, fears of falling short of the reality of our muse, fears that our creation will be devoid of life, ridiculed, or irrelevant…a sentry hardly walking. The liminal space of creativity can be the most exhilarating and yet at times the most intimidating of all liminal spaces. Part of the problem may lie in how we understand what it means to be a creative being.

When most of us hear someone speak of a creative being – one who has left a dent on the universe, we tend to think of creative giants such as Einstein, Edison, Steve Jobs, Wernher von Braun, DaVinci, Picasso, Michelangelo, Mozart, Bach… and think that real creativity must be only on the grandest of scales. “There is no way,” we tell ourselves, “that we could come anywhere close to such artistic and intellectual brilliance.” But our Creator, creating us in His image, has given us beyond measure the potential and the talent necessary to create, to make a difference, to change everything. And we are not only creative beings but artists as well and our very lives are the medium of our art. Meister Eckhard wrote, “An artist isn’t a special kind of person; each person is a special kind of artist.”

When I was learning how to swim,
I’d look down at the water and back at him
He’d say, “Take my hand, we’ll both jump in
I’ll go, too.
That’s what he’d say and what he’d do.
“Don’t go alone I’ll walk with you
I’ll go too.” [4]

Most of our creativity reveals itself in our every day encounters – visits with friends and families, meetings with strangers, serving our families, working in our garden, study, prayer, wonder, daydreaming, reaching out to those in need, encouraging words spoken over another, a hug, a smile, a laugh, just being willing to go through a tough time with a friend, the moment of finding a solution, or even the moment of recognizing a problem. These very acts make a difference. They may be the catalyst to transforming another’s life, and they absolutely have the ability to transform our own. Abraham Heschel reminds us, ““Remember that there is meaning beyond absurdity. Know that every deed counts, that every word is power…Above all, remember that you must build your life as if it were a work of art.”

Creativity doesn’t mean being taken out of everyday consciousness and concern but being intimately involved and deeply immersed in the encounters of this world. At times it is the messiest of liminal spaces but it has a huge reward. The liminal space of creativity that springs from Heaven’s heart does not take us out of this world, but it does give us Heaven’s eyes. Rav Kook believed:

Every fleeting moment we create, consciously and unconsciously, multitudes of creations beyond measure. If we would only condition ourselves to feel them, to bring them within the zone of clear comprehension, to introduce them within the framework of appropriate articulation, there would be revealed their glory and their splendor. Their effect would than become visible on all of life. [5]

To create means to step out of your comfort zone. It means to enjoy beginnings and sometimes being willing to struggle to get to the end. At times it means to do the same thing again, and again, and again. At times it means failure. It means exploring the unknown and finding great pleasure in the possibilities of a blank canvas. It means thinking at times out of the box, in the cracks, or at rock bottom. At times it means taking a risk and looking foolish to the world. Creativity means being sensitive, observant, loving, and it requires times of menucha [6].

Many have said that there is a fine line between genius and insanity – a line often walked by the creative being. Without a doubt, those of us who live a life of faith have at times been thought by the world to be touched by madness. But our faith is “the spring of our creative actions.”[7]

Created in the image of our Creator, we are invited to live our days in this immense space of possibility.

For we are G-d’s masterpiece, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works, which G-d prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

May you more fully understand your unique gifts and importance for the whole of creation. May you know without a doubt that you are valuable beyond measure and that the unique creative expression our Abba has placed in you heart – will not be expressed by anyone other than yourself. May you be strong and courageous to embrace our Creators desire for you as purposed from the beginning of time and may G-d’s glory be made real through you. May you live every moment intentionally for the Eternal.

Made in the image of our Creator, your capacity to create is beyond measure! Surely today, each of us could reach toward the heavens and touch the face of G-d.

~ Cindy

* photo credit: shutterstock.com

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of G-d.

– John Gillespie Magee, Jr, High Flight

 

[1]Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man,100-101
[2]Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man is Not Alone, 165
[3] Ivor Gurney, Bach and the Sentry
[4] Carrie Newcomer, I’ll Go Too
[5] Orot HaKodesh – Holy Lights
[6] After the six days of creation – what did the universe still lack? Menucha. Came the Sabbath, came menucha, and the universe was complete. Menucha which we render with “rest” means here much more…Tranquilty, serenity, peace, and repose. To the biblical mind menucha is the same as happiness and stillness, as peace and harmony. ~ Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Shabbat
[7] Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Holy Dimension, 337

 

 

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