Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Feast Day of the Transfiguration for Writers and Other Creative Types

On this day in 1945, the first atomic bomb used in warfare was detonated at Hiroshima, thus launching us into this brave new world where we find ourselves.

It's also the Feast Day of the Transfiguration in Orthodox churches, the day when Jesus went up the mountain with several disciples and becomes transfigured into a radiant being. Those of you who worship in Protestant churches may have celebrated this event just before Lent began, so you may not think of it as a summer kind of celebration. Pre-Reformation traditions often celebrated this day in conjunction with blessing the first harvest.

I find it an interesting conjunction, and of course, I've written a poem about it. But since it hasn't been published, I hesitate to put the whole thing here; I'll put some of my favorite bits here. It begins with these 2 lines:

"We long to be transfigured in the Holy Flame,
to harness atoms to do our will."

and later in the poem:

"Like Peter, we long to harness Holiness,
to build booths, to charge admission.
Christ turned into Carnival."

But since this blog is my creativity blog and not my spirituality blog, let me spend some time thinking about the relevance of this day for writers, artists, and other creative types.  How might we celebrate?

--It's a good day to think about what we'd like to see transformed in all aspects of our lives.  What needs to change?

--We might think about creative projects that are mouldering.  How can we transfigure them?  Maybe that poem really wants to be a short story.  Maybe two short stories could link and lead the way to a larger collection.

--Today is a good day to try an art form that has always attracted us and scared us.

--Many of us aren't comfortable with injecting chaos into our work.  But it might be worth playing with a narrative trajectory.  What would happen to your characters and the plot if you dropped a bomb on them?  Sometimes that bomb is literal.  In his book On Writing, Stephen King recounts having trouble in the middle of writing The Stand.  He needed to shake things up, and an explosion proved just what the narrative needed.  If you want to read more on the writing of The Stand, it's in part 10 of the "On Writing" section.

--For those of us who struggle with feeling unworthy, let us meditate on the words that come from the cloud that surrounds and transfigures Jesus:  “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”  Clearly Jesus is worthy.  What would happen if we allowed ourselves to feel worthy of our gifts?  How transfigured would we be?

Today is a good day to think about what distractions, atomic, cosmic, or otherwise, take our attention away from the true work. Today is a good day to think about mountaintop experiences and how we navigate our lives when we're not on the mountaintop.  Today is also a good day to meditate on power and how we seek to harness it and how we use power once we have it.

Today is also a great day to celebrate the transfiguring possibility of power.  After all, not all uses of power lead to destructive explosions.  Some times, we find redemption.

No comments: