I’m standing backstage with two of my friends. In a few moments we will walk out on stage and play a two-hour concert. By intention we don’t have a score; we don’t even have a sketch or plan. The kind of music we play—free improvisation—is made by composer-musicians on the spot, without any predetermined content or form. From moment to moment we listen with deep concentration to find the path that we will share from the beginning to the end of the performance.
It might seem scary to step out in front of an audience without any plan. But we all do it every day. Maybe we’re trying to find a way to solve a business situation, offer encouragement to a friend in need, or be a good parent. We don’t necessarily know what will happen, but we need to find a way to make things work.
Some people use the word creativity to express the concept of generating ideas out of their own thinking. But I’ve learned that the source of great ideas is a lot more reliable than simply hoping a solution pops into my head today.
Creativity is the search for Truth, the discovery of a more accurate vision of God’s creation—man. It is the unfolding of ideas in ways that are tangible … practical, useful, and uplifting. God is the only creator, and because each one of us is His reflection, we become better artists, innovators, employees, parents, etc. by seeing more of His creation and the creativity that upholds it.
A book that is always helpful to me when I’m trying to understand how to be more creative, more insightful, expressive, and original, is Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. In the chapter “Creation,” she writes: “There can be but one creator, who has created all. Whatever seems to be a new creation, is but the discovery of some distant idea of Truth” (p. 263). The more we know of God and the more we reach out and embrace the full spectrum of His creation—even the entire community of mankind—the more we expand our individual creative vision.
We become better artists, innovators, employees, parents, etc. by seeing more of His creation and the creativity that upholds it.
The work of creativity is discovering and experiencing the potential of good ideas and implementing them in ways that are useful and effective. In the Bible, the young shepherd David was able to do the impossible—overcome the warrior Goliath (see I Samuel 17:20–50). Creativity is the ability to contemplate achievements that have never been done before. The solution to David’s creative assignment was based upon his God-given bravery and wisdom, which had been honed and refined through hours of practice protecting the sheep.
Like David, we need to practice. For the idea to be fully beautiful, engaging, functional, and inspiring, the implementation needs to be of the highest caliber possible. But the work is derived from God—not ourselves. In the book of Psalms David sang, “For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.… It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect” (Psalms 18:28, 29, 32).
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul’s message is that we (like the church members he was speaking to) do not have to do the work alone. God supports us at every moment by giving us the talent and supplies that we need to accomplish the work He sets before us. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (2:13).
Creativity is always active—it is never blocked or halted. There is no power or barrier that stands between God and our continuous reflection of Him, because Mind is ever reflected, which means ever acting. The inspiration that enables us to implement and see these ideas to fruition is propelled by the unfaltering process of divine Principle, the goodness of divine Love, and the wisdom of divine Mind. Our reflection of God’s harmonious action is unstoppable.
To me, Mary Baker Eddy’s greatest achievement was healing, and teaching others to heal. Along with that she established a world-class newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, and was a highly successful author and publisher. Her life attests to the power of God to fulfill the ideas and inspiration that God gives us. She provides insight on how she was able to accomplish so much when she writes, “Mind is the source of all movement, and there is no inertia to retard or check its perpetual and harmonious action” (Science and Health, p. 283).
Was Jesus creative? He saw the real vision of man as made in God’s image, perfect and healthy and free from the burdens of material existence. His was the ultimate creativity because he saw all life and work as based on inexhaustible divine Love instead of human limitation. The overcoming of any limitation is a creative action. True creativity is limitless, unrestrained by human conception and not held down by the human measures of budget, opportunity, or access. In completeness, every good idea exists in infinite Mind—and moves out into the world, where its worthiness multiplies. Mrs. Eddy writes, “Mind’s infinite ideas run and disport themselves” (Science and Health, p. 514).
God has given us His ideas to draw us closer to Himself, to align us with Spirit, Principle. We succeed as we let God direct our creative vision and purpose. The infinity of God’s creation is the limitless source of our own life and work.
James H. Hegarty is a college professor and experimental jazz pianist living in St. Louis, Missouri.