Our journey through Leunig’s Prayer draws to a close on this, the final line of the prayer: And to let the heart create for us. It’s the line that evokes the most resounding ‘yes!’ in my soul. Yet, I believe it comes at the end of the prayer for a reason, which is that every other line before it enables us to develop and embrace our own creative heart.
God, help us to live slowly
To move simply
To look softly
To allow emptiness
And to let the heart create for us.
Why Create Anyway?
You might not think that creativity is ‘your thing’. Maybe you consider yourself more of an intellectual or business person than a ‘creative’. But I believe that as God’s image-bearers each one of us has been given the desire and ability to create. This takes many forms, every one of them as unique as we are. It’s in the way we speak, dress, cook, write, sell, dance, garden, crochet. It’s in the delight we find in beauty—sunsets, waterfalls, poetry, art, music, laughter, love. It’s what sets us apart from every other creation of God. In the Bible we are called “God’s poiema,” a word meaning ‘work of art’. What an astounding thought – you and I are works of art! Shaped by a master craftsman, we are brushed by His creativity. It is an inherent part of who we are.
Even though we’re inherently creative, there are many things that try to steal and destroy this part of us, leaving us feeling like mere husks with nothing new to offer the world. Busyness. Competitiveness. Fear of failure. The world’s message that everything we produce has to have commercial value or that what we dream of creating has been done before. The voices of teachers, parents, friends or even out own ‘Inner Critic’ telling us that we are not talented enough, that we are too old, too ordinary, too much of a quitter to even start.
Shaking off the Creativity Thieves
Each one of these messages is a lie. I invite you to continue praying Leunig’s Prayer, for I think this prayer is a weapon against these deceptive thieves. In living out these simple lines we begin to uncover our true heart, which in turn allows our own beautiful brand of creativity to flow into the world. Living Slowly opens our eyes to the beauty in and around us. Moving Simply dislodges the external and internal clutter weighing us down and hiding our own hearts. Looking Softly—at others and ourselves—nurtures the gentleness that creativity requires. Allowing Emptiness invites us to explore the deepest parts of ourselves and invite God into them. My own creativity is enhanced by both the truth and inspiration that such depth and divine presence offers.
We need You
The world is a poorer place without your full and creative engagement, and your own life lacks the joy and energy unleashed by your creative heart. So begin to nurture and encourage it. Listen to it and be courageous enough to go where it leads you. Let your heart create … art, music, stories, ideas, fun. But much more than that … life, hope, joy, love and peace.
We’ve never needed it more.
By the Way: A few years ago I wrote an eBook, entitled “10 Keys to Creative Living”. It’s filled with ideas, quotes and inspiration on living a creative life. If you would like a pdf copy of it, send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject title Keys to Creative Living, and I’ll send it to you.
(Prayer and cartoon from The Prayer Tree, by Michael Leunig, Harper Collins Publishers)