Engaging creativity

Eastlake, Charles Lock, 1793-1865; Boaz and Ruth

Boaz and Ruth . . .  Charles Lock Eastlake (1793–1865) . . . Shipley Art Gallery

There’s this great story in the Old Testament in the book of Ruth. Ruth was a young woman from the nation of Moab who married into a Hebrew family who lived in her area. All of the men in the family died; Ruth and her sister-in-law had to decide whether or not they would stay in the community they had always known or go back to Israel with their mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth chose to leave the home she had always known to stay stay with Naomi. We aren’t told why: maybe it was the only family she had left. Maybe Moab had never been kind to her. Maybe she simply didn’t want her mother-in-law to travel by herself.

Life had not been kind to the women. When they arrived in Naomi’s home community, Ruth provided food for them by gleaning the fields after the harvesters had reaped the best of the crops. Her devotion caught the eye of the property owner Boaz, and he instructed the workers to leave some extra wheat behind when they gathered the crops. He also encouraged Ruth to keep coming back to his field.

This is where the story gets interesting, especially in terms of ancient customs that make no sense to our contemporary, Western minds. When Naomi learned of his kindness, she informed Ruth that Boaz was a distant relative and that under Hebrew law, he could claim Ruth as a bride in stead of her husband who was deceased. Yes. Men had rights to women, which sounds odd, but in their culture it was primarily about protection and provision. Women didn’t have a lot of options.

How would a woman in ancient culture let a man know she was available for him? Here’s what Naomi advised:

“My daughter, I must find a home[a] for you, where you will be well provided for.  Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor.  Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking.  When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”

Yep.  Dress up. Wait until he has a happy tummy and then go uncover his feet and lie down in front of him.

I don’t understand why this was necessary, but it did the trick.

What does this have to do with creativity? Well, here is this week’s journaling question: Have you been neglecting your creativity? In what ways can you seduce it to reignite the flame? Or in Liz’s words, “take the scrunchy out of your hair, take a shower, and put some lipstick on?”

I’ve been using the concept of creativity to challenge me in my home yoga practice. I am good at following directions in a yoga class, but to become a teacher, I need to be able to create my own yoga flows and come up with the words to guide other people through them. I have days that I feel beyond challenged with this and I wind up playing mind games with myself. So how can I make myself available to my creativity? Ruth is my inspiration.

  1. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes.” I can dress for yoga. When I get home, I can put on leggings and a shirt that makes doing yoga easy and comfortable.
  2. go down to the threshing floor” I can keep my yoga mat handy and sit on it when I’m reading, meditating, or doing my yoga homework. I can keep a printed copy of my permission slip on hand to head off the mind games.
  3. “. . .lie down. He will tell you what to do.”  I can trust the process. I can trust that I know enough yoga to do this and I can trust that the words will come with the movements. 

It doesn’t have to be perfect; it simply needs to be. What about you? How can you make yourself more available to your creative self? What concrete actions can you take to engage with the processes that make your heart sing?


More on creativity

PrintWhat limiting beliefs are keeping me from engaging with creativity? How can I change my inner dialog and embrace my right to be creative? 

Which ones do you want? Let’s start with the obvious one and go from there.

I’m not creative. I’m not artistic. I know what I like when I see it, but I don’t have creative ideas on my own. I don’t have time. My brain doesn’t work that way.  Why do it if I’m not very good at it? ____________________________ is better at that than I am. I don’t want to make a mess.

I’m sure there are others, but that’s what comes to mind right now.

Write a permission slip.  It’s time to get myself out of the way and get on with being creative.

Dear Lisa,
It’s OK.  It’s OK if you aren’t the best writer or singer or knitter. You can still write and sing and knit. It’s OK if you don’t have intricate amazing ideas; you still have ideas. It’s OK if you aren’t creative in every possible way — painting may not be your thing.  Shoot, even coloring may not be your thing. Your creativity may come in your ability to problem solve, recommend books to other people, and show up on the mat every day. You don’t have to be the most creative to be creative. You don’t have to be the best at anything to show up and do what you can.

You have my total permission to be mediocre if you want to be. Just don’t be nothing, because you are worth much more than that. When words come to you, it’s because they have chosen you. There’s no supposed to in creativity. Your life will not end and no one will be homeless if you don’t turn out vast amounts of inspiring words or learn to knit socks. You can keep churning out scarves, blankets, and dishcloths all you want to.

It’s OK not to be the best. Just be.


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