Thursday, May 30, 2013

On Creation

As you probably know by now, I am more than a writer; I am also an artist.  I enjoy the creation process, the creative process, really, and I almost always have my hands in this or that design-based thing.

Which only gives me a deeper appreciation for my Creator.

In the past couple of months, I have done some graphic work for a therapeutic horse riding center and have also undertaken a redesign of our monthly women's ministry newsletter for the congregation.  In these ventures, specifically, I have found myself trying to recreate things that have already been created - horses, flowers, the sun, a tree, a bug.  It is a surprisingly agonizing process during which I am fully aware: these things don't even have to work.  That is, my only objective is to create a two-dimensional, flat, stagnant representation of such things and not the vibrant, tangible, dynamic things that they actually are.

My flower just has to look like a flower; it doesn't have to grow.  My sun just has to share a smile; it doesn't have to shine.  My tree stands as a representation; it doesn't cast its shade.  My bug is just a little thing; it doesn't have to pester.  My horse just has to be recognizable as a horse; you don't have to walk behind it with a shovel.  And I'm a perfectionist, and let me tell you - even this is hard!

It's hard to create something that even looks like something created.  It's hard to get the little details right.  It's hard to bridge that gap between "refrigerator art," where everyone knows what you were going for and appreciates the effort, and "created," where things of course live and breathe and interact.  Somewhere in the middle is good design, and I only pray I hit it as often as I can.  Both to bring glory to the God who created me to do so and to bring glory to the God who created these things in the first place.

God is fairly sarcastic with me much of the time.  He loves me deeply, but it's the way we communicate.  My brain and my heart just seem to get it.  Or maybe it's me being sarcastic with myself the way God would if He were standing over my shoulder.  (He's standing over my shoulder, isn't He?)  But every time I sit down to design something simple, I kind of get the God of Job echoing in my head.

Tell me, God teases.  Have you ever even seen a ladybug?  'Cause that's not even close.  Do you know the way I built the shell?  Or why the antennae stick out at just such an angle?  Have you seen a tulip?  What is that thing you are drawing?  It doesn't even have to drink water; can you even make its petals look right?  

And so on.  I am generally amused.

(And God's not the only one.  The lady I was working with at the therapeutic horse riding center tenderly informed me that every one of my horses was a donkey.  By ear shape alone.  *sigh*)

But He's right.  And she's right.  Creation is so far beyond my grasp, even as an artist, even as a creater (I won't call myself a "creator"), that I cannot help but be in awe of the world around me.  I cannot help but lose my breath at the sight of the created world.  I cannot help but stagger under the beauty of Creation.

A flower...that not only looks like a flower but spreads its roots, soaks up the water, drinks in the sun, creates its own food, and grows.  A sun that holds its place in the emptiness, in the vast expanse of space, and gives light to a world billions of miles away.  A tree that stands firm on a root system that dwarfs its branches, that births new leaves and casts a shadow of respite on the ground.  A ladybug that flies, that lands, that senses its surroundings, whose red color is misleading, a beautiful defense mechanism so that it can protect itself from natural predators, though its vulnerability is ever-present.  A horse whose heavy body stands on strong legs, who gallops and trots and takes on a rider, whose sleek coat is contrasted by a flowing mane, whose hooves are firm but fragile.  This stuff doesn't just look like stuff - it is stuff.  It's incredible!

So I am in awe.  I am so far less a creater, even as I have been created to create.  I used to agonize over getting it right, over the finest details, over the smallest things.  Over doing justice to the images, the shadows of real things, that I was trying to recreate.  Not any more.  I mean, have I even seen a ladybug?  'Cause that's not even close....

Now, I just try to give glory.  To the God who created me to create.  And the God who created all this incredible stuff in the first place.


  1. Yay, Aiden! :) I know what you mean by that attitude that defeats and enslaves. Must it look like a ladybug? Certainly not!

    1. Thanks, Matt. And for what it's worth, I totally pulled off ladybug.