In June of 2015, I wrote about my husband’s love for blueberry muffins and what the task of making them every day taught me. My husband finally had his fill of blueberry muffins, so I stopped making them. This week, faced with his continuing weight loss, he agreed to try them again. So this morning I made them.
I was ready to put them in the muffin tin when I faintly remembered throwing that beat-up and stained muffin tin away when I was packing to move this summer. Still, I looked in every cupboard. But my memory was accurate. No tin. Now what? I had a batch of muffins ready to bake and nothing to put them in. I can remember days when I would have tossed the dough out or rushed off to a store to buy another muffin tin. Instead I thought, “There must be something else I can bake this in.” Eventually, I put the dough in a round cake pan and crossed my fingers. A half hour later, I brought my husband his first slice of “blueberry muffin cake.” It was delicious.
Being me, I pondered over the fact that I looked for a creative solution rather than getting angry or rushing out to purchase something. I realized that being creative is more and more often been my “go-to” solution. Perhaps trying to live simply has created new brain cells in the creative center of my brain! If so, I’m excited to use them.
Approaching life’s problems and decisions creatively rather than drawing on old coping skills makes every day puzzling but exciting. Here are a few domestic examples. When we downsized from a house to an apartment this summer, I knew I would have fewer walls on which to hang my much loved paintings and photos. So before we moved, I gave some paintings away to friends I knew would enjoy them. After we moved, I filled the walls and still had several small pictures and commemorative plaques left over. Since I had also given away a lot of books, I stood the wall hangings in the spaces left over in the book shelves using the extra bookends. I like the new effect much better! Also when we moved, I gave my grandmother’s beautiful old desk to a friend – who turned it into a sewing center. Creativity at work!
It’s important to learn that we also can (and should) view our spiritual lives more creatively as we travel through the seasons of our lives. Rules and theological concepts that we accepted without question now may need questioning. Rigid traditions may need to be re-examined. Ways of building and enjoying commun- ity may have to be altered.
Ways of giving service also may need to give way to more appropriate choices. For example, I am no longer able to commit to teaching weekly classes in church because bi-weekly chemotherapy makes my life unpredictable. After much sadness, I realized that giving up teaching allows me to spend more time on my blog and other writing (including letters to my five Compassion “kids”) as well as leading a monthly writing group. And all of these activities still involve teaching!
We all need to make changes as we go through life, and we don’t have to feel guilty about making them. Jesus is our example in living creatively. As a child he learned some form of carpentry or masonry from Joseph. But when he chose to live on his own, he became a rabbi. Jesus found new ways of thinking and doing just about everything. He made wine out of water; he walked on water when he didn’t have a boat. He healed people through the power of his words; he also restored a man’s sight by anointing his eyes with mud.
He rebuked the religious establishment for their cold-hearted, legalistic control of the Jews; instead he offered the gift of a loving God. As an itinerant preacher, he went to the people instead of demanding that the people come to him. His style of leadership was to invest his life in twelve men who were to carry on his work; they “turned the world upside down.” Jesus, the son of God, was as creative during his life on earth, as God the Father was in creating the universe.
Being an apprentice of Jesus offers us the opportunity to choose to live creatively and productively and happily as the seasons of our lives change.