On Chasing Unicorns and Living Creatively

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” –Mary Oliver

This week in Nashville, we have woken up to unicorn weather, mid-70’s in June.  I’ve lived here for 7 1/2 years, and such weather feels unprecedented.  It also clashed discordantly with my long-standing plans for the week, which consisted of attending a three-day, indoor conference.  The conference had been on my calendar for months, but the unicorn weather, riding in like a gift from God, presented me with a conundrum:  do I stick with my well-laid plans, or do I chase the unicorn?

I have been thinking a lot lately about living creatively.  Ever since I read Emily P. Freeman’s A Million Little Ways about a year ago, I’ve been excitedly sharing with anyone who will listen that we humans are creative beings, made in the image of a creative God.  In her book, Emily points out that in Ephesians 2:10 (“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works…”), the Greek word translated workmanship is poiema, the same word from which we get the English word, poem.  We are God’s poem, His art.  And we are created to do good works, our art.  We are art, as Emily says, and we make art.

I tend to think of my own art as writing or even teaching.  But more and more, I’m realizing that to live creatively, I can view my entire life as art.  That’s a new idea for me:  living creatively not just in writing, but in marriage, in parenting, in homemaking, in teaching, and in my daily choices.  The decision to go on a hike instead of the morning session of the conference was a creative one, shaping our schedule in a new way.  Such decisions creatively shape my life and the lives of my children.

In a sense, all of our decisions are creative decisions.  Our very existence–our breaths and heartbeats, our time and circumstances, are given to us by God as raw material with which we create a life that honors Him.  What will that life look like?  And more particularly, what will that life look like today?  How will we use our time, energy, and circumstances today to live a life that glorifies God?

It feels weird to me to think of skipping a morning session to go hiking as a way to glorify God, but I do think that it can be.  I believe that this weather is a beautiful gift from God, and part of living for God means responding in real time to His gifts.  We make our little plans, but our plans must be held lightly if we are to live responsively to the circumstances He provides.  Sometimes those circumstances are pleasant, or unexpectedly delightful:  unicorn weather, or a visit from a friend.  Sometimes they are more challenging:  an unwelcome interruption, a call to serve in an uncomfortable way.  We don’t get to choose the raw material of our lives, and the circumstances we have to work with can range from enjoyable to maddening, lovely to sorrowful.  But we do get to choose what to make of these circumstances.  We get to respond creatively on the canvas of our lives and make art of our existence.

And as Christians, we offer that art to God.  God, after all, is the commissioner of the art; it’s purpose is for His glory.  Sometimes the art is taking our children on a hike; sometimes it is a more overt act of service.  Sometimes our art is in our spontaneity:  changing our well-laid plans to accommodate the circumstances God has sent us.  Sometimes our art is in faithfulness:  waking up and showing up to the same job, day after day, regardless of our feelings on the subject.  Our art varies, but its purpose, glorifying God, does not.  When we take the raw material of existence that God gives us and use it to creatively live for Him, we make art of our everyday lives.

Thus, I smashed the wet clay of my plans today back into a ball and started over.  My kids and I chose to make art by immersing ourselves in God’s own art.  It was hardly a heroic or a sacrificial choice, but it was a creative one.  We took a forest stroll with a mother deer and her young fawn, who ambled along the path beside us.  We marveled at cranes hunting and ducks diving and shafts of sunlight filtering through bright green leaves.  And we responded as best we could to God’s art through our own attempts at pictures and words.  This was our art this morning.  This was our effort at living creatively.

Each day, we paint on the canvas of the life God gives us, through our choices, our spontaneity, our faithfulness, our gratitude for the circumstances God sends.  We rarely make grand murals or dazzling sculptures, but we glorify God with our small efforts nonetheless when we embrace whatever God gives us and offer it as an art project back to Him.  Today, for us, that meant chasing unicorns and sketching fawns.  Who knows what it might mean tomorrow?

One response to this post.

  1. Lovely. It’s I spited our own hikes! Looking forward to seeing that more creatively 🙂


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