Worship Script 2
The Art of Creativity
Worship Script (2 of 5)
By Emily DeTar Birt
Let us come to worship, like artists before the canvas
This morning our worship is our craft
The music is our paint brush
The words our brush stroke
The candles our prism
But our imagination
Our creative intuition
They are limitless and fill the room
May this morning we remember
We as human creators of meaning are
First and foremost artists
Painting the stories of our lives
Come let us create meaning together.
Come, let us be artists
HYMN #354 We Laugh, We Cry
How Poets Pray
By Angela Herrera
What do you do with the secret verses of your heart? With your need for redemption, the story without words? With paradoxical truths, too private and nuanced to share, that cannot be printed or spoken aloud?
You weave their energy into a poem, carefully, carefully, over and under and through, luminescent strands that cannot be un-teased, until the poem is shot through with light from an unknown origin. And you whisper it into the dark. Breeze-forms delivered into the deep.
By Forrest Church
Jean Anouilh writes that “the object of art is to give life a shape.
This epitomizes life craft. Meaning emerges as a composition might, a lifework on canvas or a musical score. First we sketch, then augment and reconfigure our life notes into studies, etudes, that express what we think, how we feel, who we are. As with the oeuvre of great artists, we don’t accomplish this in a single brush stroke o composition, but through a series of lifeworks that illuminate one another.
Life is meaningful, or at least it can be. There is no reason why life should be meaningful. But, for many people, it is. Meaning arises from the novelty and creativity of the human imagination, novelty and creativity being normal components of nature itself. From that creativity, we can create meaning.
HYMN #326 Let All the Beauty We Have Known
STORY FOR ALL AGES
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson Adapted by Emily DeTar Birt
One day, after thinking it over for sometime, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight.
There wasn’t any moon, And he needed a moon. So he took his big purple crayon and drew one. He also needed a place to walk, so he drew his path nice and straight so he wouldn’t get lost. Once the path was made, he went for a walk and brought his purple crayon with him.
But the path didn’t seem to go anywhere, so he left them path drew a long field and the moon came with him.
the shortcut led right to where Harold thought a forest ought to be. He didn’t want to get lost in the woods, so he made a small forest with just one tree in it. The tree was an apple tree with delicious apples. He thought that many people might want to taste the apples. So he drew a dragon to guard the apples. A terrifying dragon.
The dragon was so scary, it scared Harold. His hand holding the purple crayon began to shake, creating squiggly lines in the ground. Before he knew what was happening, Harold sunk into the ocean he drew. Thinking fast, Harold reached up and drew a boat.
It wasn’t long before Harold drew some land to stop the boat.
Harold was getting tired and wanted to get home. So he built himself a hot air balloon to try and see if he could find his house. He couldn’t find any house. So Harold drew a house ad parked the hot air balloon right in the front yard. Harold looked at the house, and didn’t see his window. So Harold keep drawing windows. And more windows. Harold drew a whole city of buildings with windows. But he still couldn’t find his window. And then Harold looked at the moon for a long time. And he remember. He remembered that his window was always around the moon. So Harold drew his window around the moon, and he drew his bed. Harold got into bed, and dropped the crayon. And Harold dropped to sleep
Prayers of Our Heart by Vienna Cobb Andersen
A Prayer for Artists
Bless the creators, O God of creation,
who by their gifts make the world
a more joyful and beautiful realm.
Through their labors
they teach us to see more clearly
the truth around us.
In their inspiration
they call forth wonder and awe
in our own living.
In their hope and vision
they remind us
that life is holy.
Bless all who create in your image,
O God of creation.
Pour your Spirit upon them
that their hearts may sing
and their works be fulfilling.
CANDLES OF JOY AND CONCERN
Those who are so moved are now invited to come forward to light a candle, expressing a joy or concern in their lives. As you do, you may briefly share what it is. We ask that people coming forward speak for no more than a sentence or two, and speak from the heart about issues in their lives, rather than political issues, which we can take up at coffee hour or in the parking lot.
"Creativity, Art, and Failure"
by Rev. Sean Parker Dennison
Neil Gaiman, who is a writer and creator of many things, gave a commencement speech that was later published as a book. In it, he urges:
I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something… Make interesting, amazing, glorious, fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.
I hear something in Mr. Gaiman’s words that inspires me to a new kind of courage, to new ways of being brave. If our congregations are going to be relevant, I think we have to lead the way toward creative engagement with the world. And we have to lead without—or at least, in spite of—the fear of failure. Perhaps, we can learn some of this by reconnecting with the muses, playful and dangerous partners that they are.
Art and spirit are close kin, the only two realms in which people talk openly about inspiration—about being claimed by the beauty of a thing or an idea or a cause. For centuries, if you wanted to see art you would head to a cathedral, temple, or mosque. You might walk through gardens made to resemble paradise on earth or be bathed in light filtering through stories told in glass. For millennia, people understood art to be a gateway to spirit and spirit to be at work in art.
Only in the past few centuries, as industry and capital have begun to determine what is of value, has art been demoted to an avocation, a hobby.
When I was planning a project we called Cabaret Church, we used a quote by Jennifer Yane as our motto: “Art is spirituality in drag.” It may have made people laugh, but I hope it made them think as well. Art and spirituality are deeply connected, and I think we have much to gain by reclaiming not just a connection to art, but a sense of ourselves as artists and the work of ministry as art.
I have to say that my understanding of ministry was shaped by serving a congregation full of artists. We had actors, sculptors, fabric artists, painters, poets, and glass artists. I can’t think of anyone in that congregation who doesn’t make art. Even the chair of their Endowment Trustees plays the banjo and sings at the coffee house.
One Sunday after the service, I was talking to a few board members, and I spontaneously asked, “So, when I say minister, what image comes to mind?” Their list was unsurprising, “He’s tall and thin, in his mid-fifties, has gray hair and a beard, wears black, and he is very serious.
Next I asked, “What about when I say artist? What do you imagine then?” “Oh, she’s young! She has blue hair and tattoos and wears colorful, funky clothes and she is lively and unique and FUN!”
As I observed these long-time leaders of my congregation, it wasn’t the answers they gave, but the way they gave them that caught my attention. They spoke with joy and enthusiasm, with heart! “Now you’re going to dye your hair blue, aren’t you?” And I said, “Maybe.” And the chair of the Board said, “Good!” Something began to shift and we began to claim art as part of our mission and it began to change us.
When I said at a planning meeting, “I really should probably teach a class on UU history…” they were savvy enough to ask, “Hmm…. Is that your “serious-minister-all-in-black” showing up? What do you want to teach?” I answered, “Well, there is this poetry class I’ve taught a couple of times…” and they said, “THAT! Teach that!” So I did.
Nine women signed up for the class. Four of them were already leaders in the congregation. Two came because they wanted to get to know people better. A mom and daughter decided to take the class together. The ninth woman was new. She’d been on our mailing list because she’d once attended a documentary film we’d shown. That very week her therapist encouraged her to start a writing practice and she saw our poetry class in the newsletter and spontaneously signed up. As we introduced ourselves, she mentioned that she attended a local evangelical mega-church.
The next week the assignment was: “Write a poem that tells a very short story.” When it came time to share, the newcomer blurted out, “I’m really terrified to read this. I’ve been terrified all day. Can I please go first?” We agreed and she introduced her poem by telling us that she was in counseling because her marriage was abusive, and she was wrestling with what to do. She then read the most honest and painfully beautiful poem telling a story of power and control that, while deeply personal, was also a story anyone who had known abuse would find familiar.
In that moment, the class became more than a bunch of people who wanted to experiment with writing poetry. We were claimed by a mission, the most fundamental mission of art: truth-telling. From that moment on, none of us could share a single poem that pretended to be something it was not. We bonded into a community that could tell and hear truth.
More than that, the Unitarian Universalists in the class gained—seemingly instantaneously—the ability to interpret and accept words spoken in a language of faith that they themselves had rejected. No one felt the need to correct her when she said, “God bless you” or to dismiss her when she said, “Praise the Lord.” The mission of truth-telling was too important.
About halfway through the class, she found the courage to move into a local shelter. It was hard for her to be there, and she kept writing poems and we kept listening, without judgment, without correction. Her poems told her story and we learned the terrifying truth of the danger she was in. We heard how the leaders of her church told her to go home, to have faith, and to pray. She couldn’t tell them what she’d told us: that she’d locked his guns in the trunk of her car because she was afraid he would kill her while she slept. We held her and heard her truth and shared a profound artful and spiritual community.
She didn’t become Unitarian Universalist, and like many women in her position she struggled, returned home, left again. Her road to freedom and safety will likely continue to be bumpy, but her willingness to be honest made it possible for all of us to set aside the façade of perfectionism and connect around our common, flawed, humanity.
Together, we witnessed two things: the value of her life, each life, no matter how far from perfect; and the power of art in spiritual community to affirm that value and beauty. In this small circle of truth-tellers she could see herself—flaws and all—through our eyes, and ultimately, through our belief that eternal, all-embracing Love would never, ever let her go. She didn’t become a Unitarian Universalist, but she knows we’re here. She knows there is a religious community that doesn’t believe she is being punished, doesn’t blame her for the abuse, and will not abandon her for being human.
Art is healing. Making good art is more than paint on canvas or a moving melody line or beautiful turn of phrase. Making good art is opening our hearts—our whole beings—to the emotion, inspiration, pain, and courage of being alive. Making good art demands that we let go and allow ourselves to be claimed by something bigger than our egos, something bigger than our fear. Making good art means being willing to face the inevitable messes and mistakes and be brave. When we do this, we sometimes succeed in ways we could never have imagined.
HYMN #368 Now Let Us Sing
BENEDICTION by Susan L Van Dreser
Let us sing the magic of imagination by which we know one another and learn the lives of eras gone by.
Let us sing the magic of creation by which we build the world of our soul and teach its wisdom to others, young and old.
Let us sing the magic of our lives together, holding and shaping by the movement of breath from heart to lung all new life that is to come.
Go now with singing. Go now with magic in your fingertips. Touch this world with life.