Creativity: Weekly Summary

Creativity

Summary: Sunday, June 3-Friday, June 8, 2018

The “mind of Christ” is a different way of knowing, and you can recognize it by its gratuity, open-endedness, compassion, and by the way it is so creative and energizing in those who allow it. (Sunday)

The contemplative stance is the Third Way. We stand in the middle, neither taking the world on from another power position nor denying it for fear of the pain it will bring. (Monday)

Solutions to impasses or sticking points generally come by learning how to spot and mediate third force, which is present in every situation but generally hidden. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Tuesday)

There is no greater training for true leadership than living in the naked now. There, we can set aside our own mental constructs, receive input and ideas from all directions, and lead even more creatively and imaginatively—with the clearer vision of one who lives beyond himself or herself. (Wednesday)

To worship was formerly to prefer God to things, relating them to him [sic] and sacrificing them for him. To worship is now becoming to devote oneself body and soul to the creative act, associating oneself with that act in order to fulfill the world by hard work and intellectual exploration. —Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (Thursday)

Teilhard saw that creativity and invention would forge the modern path of evolution, but he also saw that science alone cannot fulfill the cosmic longing for completion. God rises up at the heart of cosmic evolution through the power of love, which science and technology can facilitate but not surpass. —Ilia Delio (Friday)

 

Practice: Cultivating Curiosity

In his book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes:

Each of us is born with two contradictory sets of instructions: a conservative tendency, made up of instincts for self-preservation, self-aggrandizement, and saving energy, and an expansive tendency made up of instincts for exploring, for enjoying novelty and risk—the curiosity that leads to creativity belongs to this set. We need both of these programs. But whereas the first tendency requires little encouragement or support from outside to motivate behavior, the second can wilt if it is not cultivated. If too few opportunities for curiosity are available, if too many obstacles are placed in the way of risk and exploration, the motivation to engage in creative behavior is easily extinguished. [1]

How might we cultivate curiosity, openness, and the ability to change our minds (the meaning of the Greek word metanoia, usually translated as “to repent”)? A contemplative practice is anything that helps us open heart, mind, and body to union with God—the source of creativity. And so nurturing curiosity can be contemplative!

Below are just a few suggestions to stretch your curious, creative muscle. As you try one or more, I invite you to observe the reactions in your body and brain. Notice resistance, tension, fear, excitement, surprise, delight. Whatever your response, give it some space and time to unfold. Do you feel anything shifting? Later you might journal or talk with a friend about the experience.

  • In a situation that seems boring or mundane—like waiting in line or at a stoplight—pay closer attention to your surroundings, using all your senses. You might even strike up a conversation with the stranger next to you.
  • Spend some time working hard on something you’re passionate about, be that practicing an instrument, studying a complex issue, or pushing yourself just a bit harder in a workout. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn.
  • Change the way you take in news and explore other journalistic sources and mediums. Listen to, read, or watch news from different political perspectives and other geographic regions.
  • Take a different route or use public transportation to a familiar place or visit a new place, for example a farmer’s market, grocery store, church, library, or park.
  • Seek out and get to know people who are quite different from you (in age, interests, field of work, socio-economic status, culture, or religion). Listen a lot and share honestly from your own life experience (avoid abstract ideas or giving advice).
  • Recall a belief you’ve held about the world or God that has changed over time. What information or experiences altered that belief? Bring to mind another belief you hold now and question your assumptions, playing “devil’s advocate” for a while.

Reference:
[1] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (Harper Perennial: 2013), 11.

 

For Further Study:
Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three (Shambhala Publications, Inc.: 2013)

Ilia Delio, Christ in Evolution (Orbis Books: 2008)

John F. Haught, Resting on the Future: Catholic Theology for an Unfinished Universe (Bloomsbury: 2015)

Richard Rohr: Essential Teachings on Love, eds. Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Orbis Books: 2018)

Richard Rohr, Just This (CAC Publishing: 2017)

Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2009)

Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Contemplation hastens the evolution of the human species. Whoever finds this out and practices it will hasten the evolutionary future of the human family. —Thomas Keating

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