Tuesday, September 22, 2009

the void

I don't know about the rest of you, but as a creative person, I have a recurring fear. And that is that I will never have another creative idea, or come up with anything worthwhile to say or do again. I fear that I only have so much in my creative bank account. Since creativity basically means that you never do the same thing in the same way twice, the pressure mounts with every task that comes my way.

When I am faced with a another paper to write, a talk to prepare, a presentation to give, a picture to paint, or a blog to compose, there is often a gaping void that taunts me. There is a chaotic formless flurry of scattered bits that I can't make sense of.

On Sunday, the void visited me again. I had a presentation to prepare for Monday night and when I jumped out of bed, the dark chaos was waiting. Fortunately, I was doing a presentation on Genesis 1-4 and the first thing that came to mind was: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

God had the same experience as me! The formless and void stage is not something to be feared, it is part of the creative process! That's how it starts: from formlessness into something being formed; from a dark void into light and goodness! I began to recognise that yes, this is what happens everytime I attempt to create something. There is a nothingness, a chaos without order.

The thing I often do not see (even though it is very present) is the spirit of God moving over the surface of all this darkness - brooding, waiting. When I ask God for help (and I try to do this very early on in the creative process) and for inspiration, for clear thoughts and ideas, something happens. One word comes to mind and sticks there. One idea catapults itself out of the void, something I see catches my attention, or I have a dream that clarifies my chaotic thoughts. It is like a light turns on and I can begin to see the beginning of how it will take shape.

Notes to self:

1. Never fear the appearance of the formless void. It is the beginning of something good.
2. Always remember that the Spirit is already moving over the void. God has already begun the process and is waiting for me to participate with him.
3. Ask for God's help, jump in, and start exploring.
4. Separate the dark from the light, the energetic from the lifeless, and primary from the secondary.
5. Speak words of light and life into the process. Remember, if God is involved, it is good.

This is the sky over London.

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