Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Burst of Enthusiasm that Changed the World


Creative people make me less tired. Even when I feel as though I have been run over by a truck, in the presence of real creativity I am suddenly back - alive and hopeful, earnest and insightful, and amused and playful. All things once again can be imagined.

Earlier this week I spent some time with a truly creative spirit, one whose life oozes enthusiasm. She is no Pollyanna; life for her has had some hard edges. On more than one occasion, circumstances have required that she recreate herself. From my vantage point, it seems that each newly tweaked incarnation has gotten better and better.

Putting a fine point, or even a dull one, on precisely what set of dynamics, genetic or environmental, create such a composite of personhood is not possible. But the more of these wonderful characters I encounter, the more I am able to identify some things that seem to be common to them. With all due respect to the proverbial moody, miserable, and misanthropic creative genius, the folks I am talking about are the exact opposite, seeming to live from a place of joy that no amount of cynicism lurking about them can extinguish.

In our scripture there are frequent references to the idea that God is up to something new, creating again and again within the people of God a spirit of newness, of hope, of joy. I know that does not mean that we are guaranteed to be happy campers every minute. Heavens, I have been a testy camper a couple of times already today, and it is not yet noon! But it is not too much to hope that our faith will generate in us a sense of joy that lasts even when life is far from peachy. At its best, our faith, our experience of Christ in one another, develops within us a reservoir of joy that allows us to bounce back, to keep on hoping and loving and imagining.

It helps to remember that the Church, this lumbering, perplexing and often maddening entity, began in a burst of enthusiasm that changed the world. Far from the stodgy uptight reputation we have managed to earn and cherish, the church began with some wild and crazy carrying on! On Pentecost, I don't think there was one speck of meanness to be found; people were filled with joy and absolutely nothing could stop them from spreading some really, really Good News. Through all the twists and turns of the church, many of which, old and new, make us cringe, the Good News remains an invitation to a new thing, to a new life, to a life of creativity and joy.

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