Creativity & Redemption

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When something is broken, it is natural to throw it away and start over. It’s like how we throw the shards of a broken plate into the trash and buy a new one. I’m drawn, however, to works of beauty that you don’t realize are created out of broken contents until you view it closely. At the Burbank art festival this year, incredible installations and metal sculptures caught my eye from a distance. I made a beeline for that booth, bypassing the other four before it. Arriving at my targeted booth, I see that all the metal sculptures were made from rusted toys, old, nonfunctioning cameras, and random scrap parts. Other people’s trash became this artist’s raw material for beautiful creations.

I look at the news in these last few weeks and the amount of brokenness in our nation is daunting, some due to mother nature and some to sin nature. The sum of Houston’s flooding, northern California’s fire, the Las Vegas shooting, the terror attack in New York, the shooting in Texas, and the discoveries of sexual assault/ harassment in the film industry could render anyone despondent about the condition of our reality. If we’re not living in the brokenness we witness, we are by the least surrounded by it. And still, for most of us, we don’t have to look far to see brokenness because most of us experience some level of it in our lives.

Yes, creativity is about novelty, originality and innovation. It requires seeing what could be where everyone else sees what is. It requires a visionary perspective to look into a heap of trash and see possibilities of brilliance. Creativity operates on both ends of a blank slate and a broken slate. Creativity is not only about answering the call to create but also to re-create, to remaster the fragmented, destroyed, tainted, and ugly into a masterpiece. Imagine the novelty, originality and innovation required to re-envision destruction!

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The re-creative person doesn’t run away from destruction but enters into it to be an agent of surprising change. The re-creative person also, however, does not gloss over brokenness or merely relabel the brokenness as something it is not. The re-creative person is observant of what is, even sees the essence of the ugliness, but dares to see the beauty that can be formed from it, where it would’ve been easier to simply bemoan it. A source and model who sets re- creativity in motion in our world is God. Isaiah 65:17 reads, “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth,” and the following verses describe God’s vision for a world where weeping is replaced with dancing. It is a world of justice, peace and blessing. God’s re-creativity centers not only on the condition of the world, but especially on the people in it. 2 Corinthians 5:17 reads, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” As messed up as our world can be and no matter how much regret we bear, God’s intent is not to discard this world or us. Nor is he just judging it. He sees it for what it is. And then He literally enters into the thick of a messy world with the birth of Jesus, bears the brokenness of the world with his death, and sets in motion a path of re-creation with his resurrection. While we live in a world cluttered with brokenness, it is a world overshadowed by a visionary God who loves this world and is committed to recreating it. When I see artistic re-creativity, I see it as an echo of the ardent work of God. God’s re-creativity challenges me to look at a broken situation through redemptive eyes, being prodded to ask the question, “How can the remnants of destruction be refashioned into a thing of beauty?” “How can what is left after remorse be redeemed?” After falling on my knees to ask for visionary perspective, I then must roll up my sleeves and get to work. I must follow the example of my God and continue the movement of re-creativity that He had begun personally in me. Creativity means that the broken can be redeemed, where beauty can not only arise from the ashes, but that the ashes can be the very elements for a refashioned beauty.