Friday, May 15, 2009

What Kind of Art Supply Are You?

At the creativity retreat from which I've just returned, we spent a lot of time thinking about ourselves as art materials, as well as having a lot of fun playing with art supplies. We also spent some time thinking about God as art material. If you want to read about this from a more theological aspect, feel free to visit my other blog; go here to read about God as art material, and here to read about humans as art supplies.

But that writing made me think about possible poems, so I thought I would post some ideas here as well. If you could describe yourself as an art material, which one would it be: clay? fabric? steel? potting soil? paint? copper? words?

What art material would you rather be? How does yearning for the different qualities of this art material mean that you don't appreciate the inherent worthiness of your own art material self?

A pastor/painter friend remarked about clay that clay doesn't spend its time wishing it was steel. Sure, it can't hold up a building, but it can do other things. Art materials have their own properties. They're very happy with who they are and see no need to change.

I felt like my head would split open as I realized how much I don't appreciate my own qualities, how much time I spend trying to improve myself and change myself for the better. I'm all for improvement and evolving, but some of my feelings stem from periods of self-loathing, which I wish I could let go of. I've made progress since adolescence, but occasionally, those old feelings well up, and I find myself surprised: "Hello, self-loathing, it's been awhile. What will you focus your laser-like intensity upon today?" What would happen if I accepted myself just as I am?

If you thought about God as an art material, what metaphor would you choose? Is this metaphor different from the ones you grew up with? How would your friends view God, when using the lens of an art material?

On Sunday, I taught a class on Women in the Bible, and I talked about feminine images of God (appropriate for Mother's Day, I thought). A lot of our old metaphors for God may not work anymore--God as parent is a troubling idea, since we never get to grow up to full adulthood, under some of the metaphors. But God as art supply takes us to a whole new poetic place.

I've long been fascinated with Julian of Norwich (whose feast day was a week ago) who created such unusual metaphors for God, unusual for a medieval woman, and in some ways, unusual even today. What metaphors could we poets create that would transform the way we see God?

What metaphors can we create that will transform the ways we see ourselves?

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