By Anne Middleton
When Joanna first told me about the different elements to the SheLives initiative, of course, I was naturally drawn to this one. I am an author and storyteller in schools as well as the editor of MET Connexion, having previously been an actress, writer and dramatherapist. I am someone who is so motivated by creativity that I only really feel a sense of value in what I am doing when I am using my creative skills; thus, I have found a way to make my creative skills my work – even, at times, at the expense of a proper wage! I may be unusual, but I have a feeling that many women may feel the same.
Women are innately creative; not only because we have the ability within our bodies to create life – with a little help! – but also because it was within the womb of a woman that heaven and earth met and the saviour of the world was formed as a baby! In a way, every time a new life is created, a meeting of heaven and earth takes place within a woman’s womb…
As well as being innately creative, women need to be creative. I don’t mean that all women need to draw – I cannot and will not draw (neither do I bake or do flower arranging!), but we need to live creatively. I don’t want to generalise as we are all unique – and much of what I will say will relate to men also – however, I do see value in acknowledging that women are in some ways wired differently to men and, as such, have a unique way of responding to the world and others. The following may well apply to everyone, on one level, but I hope to share some of the reasons why I feel that women flourish when living creatively.
Living creatively, for me, includes
- engaging with our emotions
- expressing our hopes and desires
- finding our voice
- freedom to worship
- and being a part of creation.
Being a part of creation
I want to start by recognising that we are a part of creation, and the ultimate way to live creatively is to live in a way that is fully connected to the world and others. I love Hildegard of Bingen’s concept of ‘viriditas’; this is a ‘greening power’ or vitality which flows through the whole of creation (June Boyce-Tillman, ‘The Creative Spirit’, Canterbury Press, p.174). Like Hildegard, I believe that to live a fully creative life, we need to live in connectedness to the rest of creation. Hildegard was an abbess, a visionary, a poet, a theologian and a dramatist! She saw creativity not only as artistic pursuits, but in working ecologically and tending the earth. In this way, we are part of the ongoing creativity of creation! I have to admit, that my fingers are not very green! However, a part of my motivation has been to help people to bring their whole being into relationship with God, the world and others – to be fully a part of creation…
Engaging with our emotions
Women are emotional creatures. We tend to trust our ‘gut’ responses (women’s instincts) and often find it more difficult to separate fact and feelings. We need to engage with and nurture our emotions and not try to suppress or ignore them. The arts have the ability to engage with heart and soul in a way that women particularly respond to. In order to live creatively, we need to engage with all aspects of our personalities.
Expressing our hopes and desires
Art is the ‘language of the soul.’ We can sometimes express ourselves through the arts when we cannot find words to express our deepest feelings and longings. Hopes and desires are not always tangible, objective things and we need a medium to express and respond to that which is not quite within our reach.
Finding our voice
Women can sometimes feel invisible, whether within a marriage or as a single person – we are also more likely to find it difficult to make our voice heard. Personally, I find it much easier to express myself through writing than speaking – I guess that when we write, we are able to consider our words and form them without interruption or before we feel that people have stopped listening! I also know of women who are not confident to speak, but are able to communicate confidently through poetry, art or music.
Freedom to worship
The beautiful thing about worship is that it is from the heart. As such, no words are needed. In fact, God knows our thoughts before we even say them! So, the way that we express our worship is a personal response and can take any form that comes naturally to us. Again, when we cannot find the words, creativity and the arts provide the freedom to express our heart-felt worship.
She Lives Creatively
The SheLives initiative, is about helping women to live lives to the full. We are made in the image of our creator. To become the women that God intended us to be, we need to engage with our emotions, express our hopes and desires, find our voice, discover freedom in worship and bring our whole being into connection with the rest of God’s creation. Then, I believe, our creative potential will flourish.
Anne Middleton is a children’s author and storyteller as well as the newish editor of MET Connexion. She is currently living in Plymouth with her husband Darren (a Methodist Minister and Padre to 29 Commandos) and their daughter Grace. They may not be in Plymouth for long, but are making the most of being by the sea and a wonderful season of blessing.
For more information about her books or to book her for a storytelling session, please visit: http://annemiddleton.wix.com/piggy-and-woof