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“Perhaps creativity is this,” postulated Ann Voskamp at her interview session at last week’s Festival of Faith and Writing. “Perhaps it is assuming a posture of humility and prayer,” continued the New York Times bestselling author of One Thousand Gifts (and all around amazing human being). “Creativity is coming to the keyboard as a beggar and awaiting God to speak, to give the words we are to write.”

My soul was moved.  Yes, she responded.  Yes.

There is a noticeable pattern in my life, maybe in yours, too. When I rely on myself as agent, whether primary or sole, things have a tendency to be more clunky. I’m not always immediately aware.  Sometimes it takes a while or several trials to surface. I’ll either feel nothing coming or myself trying to force something to happen.  And when that is the case, my effort invariably will be of lesser quality and produce unwanted outcome.  Stress is usually present in these circumstances.  While these situations are never entirely good or bad, I almost always have a sense that things could have gone better.  This occurs in every aspect of my life, particularly in relationships (particularly parenting) and my writing.

On the other hand, when my posture is one of humility and participation mine is a completely different world.  I feel either less anxiety or none at all.  I am much more creative, oxymoronically enough; and this is because I am open.  My ears hear sounds that scheming blocks out; my nose smells scents that my quick pace allows not for; my eyes see deeper into nuances, emotions, processes and simpler things that quick glances overlook. All of this feeds my soul, and when she is well nourished she shares most generously of her wisdom and intuition.

I look at my own hands as a reminder, a physical example of how posture functions.  When I am trying to grasp, my hands are tightly formed into fists.  Nothing is going in, nothing is coming out. I could be right; I could wrong; I could be only partially informed or completely misinformed. The world and I will might not ever know. My muscles contract to the point that the rest of my body follows suit, and anxiety spikes in kind. After a while my hands begin to lose color as blood flow is constricted.  Sometimes my fingernails begin to hurt me as they dig into my flesh.

When my hands are open, however, my sense of touch is alive. Endless possibilities come and go at will.  Whatever needs to remain has safety on the flat surface of my palm, and whatever must go slips through my fingers.  Sometimes I stretch my hands with fingers spread widely; other times I relax them and observe the natural curvature; still other times I wiggle my fingers in play. I have options on how open I want to be, and how active is that openness. No choice is less than the other, for life-giving blood can still flow freely to and fro, bringing nourishment and removing toxins.

O Lord, may I be and always remain in a posture of openness to you and the guidance of your Spirit.  Amen.