Week 3 Day 4: Creativity

Week 3: My Relationship with Self
Workbook Exercise: My Own Self

Watch: Week 3 Day 4: Creativity
How are you creative?
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Transcript of Video:

Something I am learning about myself is that in engaging with creativity, with creative process, I am a drawer and a painter, so that’s one area what I can think about creativity a balance between allowing myself to engage with that creativity in a way that is hoping for a tangible outcome and also giving myself time to engage with that without the pressure of any outcome coming from it, so just delighting in the process. I think that’s really useful for me not to get stuck or paralyzed. And so I think a similar dynamic applies to prayer, that allowing yourself to be surprised or to break out of a particular routine in terms of the ways of praying that might be most comfortable or most time tested for myself. Allowing myself to be surprised or to occasionally take productive detours in my prayer life.

– Br. Keith Nelson


  1. David Damon on September 23, 2021 at 08:22

    I am creative in several ways – in how I solve problems, in how I experiment with recipes when I am cooking/baking, in how I visualize charts and graphics that can be generated from sets of numbers, in how I put thoughts together when writing. I enjoy the act of creativity and the process from start to finish – it is kind of like conception, gestation, and birth in many ways for me. I think being able to create certain types of things myself gives me an appreciation for other’s abilities to be creative, whether in art, or music, or dance, or architecture. I am very moved by visiting an art museum, or a symphony orchestra concert, or a ballet, or hearing a choral service in a cathedral. All these different examples of creativity are like glittering facets of God’s creativity made manifest in the world.

  2. Lisa Bartoli-DeAngelis on March 20, 2019 at 15:01

    My creativity is expressed in cooking and also making flower arrangements…wreaths. I love doing these things. Love experimenting and trying new things to cook. I feel good when I create for myself but also for others to enjoy as well. I know that these gifts of creativity were from God and up to me though to cultivate and use them to bring joy. In jesus name..thank you.

  3. David Watkins on November 25, 2017 at 08:05

    I am a classical pianist. Having retired from full time teaching and performing, I still learn new repertoire that is on the “bucket list”, partially because love that music, but especially because practicing and learning new music, and the playing of it is a sure source of meditation and getting in touch with my inner being. When totally immersed in music, I become unaware of the passage of time, and at those times feel the most in touch with the Infinite,God. God inspires the creation of this beauty. In my prayer life, speaking with God is important, but being still and listening is equally important, if not more so.

    • Chioma Nwaogu on January 21, 2021 at 14:09

      In being creative, I let myself reflect and come to terms with what and who I am. To remain here means, I relate with every thing around and in my world, in spontaneity, impulse and pleasure, by this means I can shine through, in the way I respond to God and all things, whether playfully or joyfully. I can read, sing and /or write, even pray in many wonderful and unforeseen ways, that make me feel fulfilled.

  4. Richard A Dixon on August 31, 2017 at 03:44

    I started work at 16 as an engineering apprentice. The apprenticeship took 5 years, and I was proud to be ‘an engineer’ involved with big machines, and I do mean BIG. Now in my 70’s I wish I was more creative. I paint a little with watercolour, but my training makes me want my paintings to be ‘right’.
    Lord, all creators get their ability from You, the Great Creator, please help me to be more creative. Amen.

  5. Sue on March 31, 2017 at 18:14

    Thank you so much for this program which is challenging me in so many ways!
    I grew up in a very practical family so I find it hard to think of how I am creative. However I am a medical teacher, and I love thinking up scenarios to help the group learn, or to come up with ideas of how things could work better.(i also enjoy knitting and creating something with beautiful colours and texture, but usually to someone else’s pattern). I really enjoyed reading other people’s responses- very interested in’praying in color’ ,I will see if I can find it.

  6. Linda on May 29, 2016 at 10:17

    Plan to study Christian Mystics to try new ways to pray. I like lectio divina, meditating, seeing God in nature, feeling the breath of my cat and knowing God breathes life into creatures. Allowing God to comment on my activities in my mind as I go about things and in joy know that my efforts please him, sounds silly but it is something I like to imagine. It gets me through my boring chores.

  7. Kathy on March 11, 2016 at 02:32

    I create my life with my mind. I stop and listen to the gentle Spring rain. Oh what a beautiful soft gentle blend of sound. A giving, allowing sound. The refreshment of the earth. The thirst of spring. It is God’s love, God’s creation, and it is ours to only notice.

    It is like this. God creates our experience. We create our experience by how we respond to our outer and inner world.

    For me, the greatest challenge in this co-creation is the slowing down of everything. Slowing down for gratitude, for curiosity, for appreciation, for allowing relationships to unfold in a loving, peaceful way.

    By slowing down I can take the time to feel my emotions. If I am angry plans changed. I can just be with that. It will pass. Emotions do that. They come and go. I understand that change brings fear. As I move through the experience I use creativity to allay my fear. Perhaps the change will be good. It opens up new possibilities.

    By slowing down, not saying what I see, not trying to direct or control a situation, I can allow God to cocreate with others. God knows them better than I do. But patience can be so difficult, so I redirect my wanting to “help”, to “fix” things, as creatively as possible. This frees up a lot of time. Perhaps I’ll paint, garden, cook, decorate, listen to the rain, feel emotions, or just imagine the possibilities…

  8. Steve on March 5, 2016 at 16:36

    I have not a creative bone in me! So Ihave to develop a talent for helping others. I can speak well in public and so I like to speak with people who have problems staying out of trouble or cant find a path with a problem in their personal lives. Often just a friendly ear–someone willing to listen–can make a lot of difference. Often using your own experiences can help you advise others how to find an alternate path to the one they are taking.

    • Deb on January 26, 2020 at 01:34

      Helping others= nurturing is indeed creative. Birthing health and comfort where you see a need. Sounds creative to me!

  9. Robert on March 5, 2016 at 12:50

    Thank you, Br. Keith for touching on the joy of the process. I’m a teacher and, of course, I want my students to do well, but being at Harvard I know they can and will. So my creative joy and I hope theirs, is in our interactions, discussions, sharing, listening, laughing, questioning. Each group is different and I love the challenge, as if I were conducting chamber music and always encouraging and listening for new harmonies. I also do watercolors. I carry a small kit and pad, find a place to sit in nature, and rarely take more than 30 minutes or an hour. I’m pleased if the result is not a mess, but I know I’m not Turner, and find the process like a form of prayer/meditation/gratitude improvised according to wind, rain, sun and shadow.

  10. Vicki on March 5, 2016 at 09:06

    I think I can be creative.I don’t think I take the time to be creative.I enjoy drawing enjoy coloring. I like to journal. I used to enjoy things like embroidery different crafts that I don’t really do right now. I think that something that I could work on bringing back into my life. I think that would help in terms of the balance in my life to have something creative. Just a few minutes ago I saw a friend of mine at a meeting that I went to and she was knitting while she sat there. I often envy people who do that because I think that having that creativity that thing that’s going on with your hands while your mind is engaged is it’s it’s centering it is in some way calming. I think that something that I I could really look to put back into my life.

  11. Alan Rollins on March 2, 2016 at 21:14

    I don’t really know; this is not a very creative answer, I know that. I do love other’s creativity. My taste in music is eclectic (Vivaldi to 80’s electronica). I have many favorite movies in my collection that nobody else has heard of (pardon the hyperbole). I know little to nothing of painted works. Or poetry. Or very much literature. I know much of this is because I’ve never tried. Trying to find and identify my own imagination is, frankly, a daunting task. Or, possibly (…could be?) that as I get older, this too will be made more clear to me; I hope that I am able to identify something in me that I can express as a creative, inspired, and satisfying way of grace as a gift to God, but also to my companions in this life.

  12. a city monk on March 1, 2016 at 09:57

    recognizing, and engaging with Living Psalmody…
    discovering Psalmody in what was called then folk songs and the freedom songs of the 60’s. The songs only brought me to prayer with those living the Psalmody of the Beatitudes…
    Now, it is the evening news that shows me those Living the Psalmody of the Beatitudes…
    I’ve been blessed with eyes that see, and ears that hear that Living Psalmody of the Beatitudes…

    Dorothy Day mentions her awe in holding the Word of God in her hands, the Bible. It has long been enough for me, to simply hold the Word of God in my heart. Now, it is the absence of the Word of God in my mind that fails to guard my heart from that which would distract me from awareness of the Presence of God. “What I have failed to do”… praying Scripture…. with the whole of my being.

  13. Debbie McMahon on February 28, 2016 at 07:52

    I don’t consider myself creative, but I do love to garden. I love to learn.

  14. Donald Sutton III on February 27, 2016 at 15:14

    I am actually still not sure how I am creative at this time because I haven’t really explored my creative side.

  15. NA on February 25, 2016 at 20:41

    Writing, photography, and gardening are big creative outlets for me. I especially love propagation and can wind up with plants almost everywhere in season!

    But there is one more form very close to my heart…

    I loved learning during 2003-2007 was throwing pottery on the wheel. Because I was learning, I was much more able to be invested in the process, to find a centering and flow that extended far beyond my time in the class.

    When we moved, I gave it up because I could not find any local workshops. It came to my attention recently how much I miss it, so one of my new things to work on is figuring out how to make it a possibility again.

  16. Charles Searls Ridge on February 25, 2016 at 20:28

    Thank you for “…allowing yourself to be surprised or to break out of a particular routine in terms of the ways of praying that might be most comfortable or most time tested.” I have had a rule of life since a high school senior (1954); have modified it many times but always had one; have been an Episcopal priest for 55 years and am still working as such and am a Benedictine Oblate at a RC Priory. For Lent this year I decided to suspend my rule of life, as such, and to work on your program to grow a renewed rule appropriate to becoming 80 years old and increasingly less active in priestly ministries. The program is very helpful and the comment, today, really spoke to me. I wonder what my rule will look like after this Lent. Thank you!

  17. Christopher Buckley on February 25, 2016 at 15:29

    I’m a professional musician.
    Creativity is a large and crucial part of my career.
    The challenge, though, is that when creativity is your job, oftentimes play becomes work, art becomes drudgery, and colors go gray.

    Don’t get me wrong – there’s so much joy, excitement, humor, and thrill in making music… it’s just there’s always this trap – so easy to fall into – making it a perilous thing to rely upon… I can’t be sure that music will be fun, or even particularly creative.

    So, along with music, I take walks.
    And I have conversations.
    With trees, rocks, birds, fish, the occasional bug.
    (I’m quite Celtic in my Christian spirituality, and so see the Presence in each creature… that is, when I’m properly open to it.)
    The playful, creative, storytelling, mythic parts of my mind and heart wake up while I’m chatting with God’s other-than-human children.
    I highly recommend it.

  18. DP on February 25, 2016 at 09:00

    Thank you for all of these responses! This is not a bad way to start the day — in the virtual company of you all.

  19. Stan on February 24, 2016 at 20:45

    “Delighting in the process”. Now that is a wonderful way to describe the revelation that you are often your most creative self when you’re doing it just for your own enjoyment.

    I am a quite a creative person, being a music lover, a photographer, a writer of code (I program machines to make parts for a living), and a creative thinker. I like to think “outside the box”. It’s often the best way to solve problems, and the ideas which are derived can be lots of fun to consider.

    And though my profession of writing code may seem challenging (or tedious) to many, I’ve always considered it to be a creative outlet. I always take the extra time to consider everything that’s really involved in the manufacturing process and when the machine with my planning and program makes beautiful parts and makes them accurately and repeatably, then I feel that my labor produced a program which is a work of art.

  20. Florence Munoz on February 24, 2016 at 20:43

    I see myself as structured rather than creative. I like to follow recipes and patterns. The area where I may be creative is in my prayer life. I use the rosary differently and I pray spontaneously whenever and
    wherever there is a need for prayer.

  21. susan zimmerman on February 24, 2016 at 19:58

    …creative w/writing

    …Dr Rabbi Sherwin, highly respected scholar (student of Heschel) read one of my comparative papers on the Haggadah service, where I compared two different approaches and then emailed me and said he had read this paper three times…i like using venn diagrams, and other templates…

    …juxtaposed to prayer…i have had a difficult time with just silence…bye

  22. Carol Ward on February 24, 2016 at 19:22

    I’ve been lucky to be creative in many, many ways. Cooking, gardening, teaching, problem solving, sewing, story telling and several more have all been ways this was manifest. Oh, and I think my sense of humor has always been a source of creativity too. I’ve never settled on just one because it seemed that at certain times of my life, one or the other of these was most needed. Maybe now with kids grown, I could concentrate on one of these & get really good at it!

  23. Jan on February 24, 2016 at 18:41

    I’m creative in my love for music of any kind. I sing and used to play the cello. My personal style is creative in dress, accessories, make up, decorating my home or office. I think I’m a creative photographer. Last, I’m creative in thinking, solving issues, writing and teaching.

  24. Eugene Wright on February 24, 2016 at 16:31

    I am creative in several ways. I am creative in the kitchen. I like to experiment with food preparation. Sometimes they come out great other times not so great. I also try to be creative in my prayer life. As I read the Bible daily and study it diligently, I use words of scripture to pray. I adapt most plurals to singular I ad say them as if I was talking to God in front of me but using His words.

  25. Debbie on February 24, 2016 at 15:29

    Creativity is natural to me. I am always looking at ways to do or accomplish something, not just to make it better or save time but to put my self in to this. I see how it something is, what it needs to be and how I can make it as I would have it. I find my self wandering in prayer and I believe it is where I am being lead. What I need to focus on. To be narrow minded does not allow for the spirit to become what is has to in me.

  26. Bruce on February 24, 2016 at 13:11

    In the past year I have been using my creativity in writing, whether it’s a brief observance on my blog or doing some fiction, I write. My writing takes me into those deeper places which I would never expose allowing me to explore the places where growth happens. As I age and look to discerning a new path on my journey, it is through my writing that I can begin to map out what that might look like as I move forward.

  27. Claire on February 24, 2016 at 12:25

    Praying in Color is a practice I use where I can truly approach a tangible creative process without an expected outcome. Creativity comes from being in the presence of others and merging ideas into something greater than my own imagination. I love when my Sunday School teachers and I gather to plan a class around a particular Bible story. and then when you mix in the results of “I wonder’ questions with the children, it develops into something greater than any of us could have ever imagined. I understand creativity as participating in God’s recreation!

  28. Betsy on February 24, 2016 at 12:07

    How can I be creative? So last summer our grandchildren, seven and nine, were visiting us. They were in their beds one night waiting for me to read to them. After the story, I told them that there was a very special prayer and challenged them to learn it in a really fun way. The Lord’s Prayer, with each child saying a word back and forth between the two kids in their beds! They really loved “doing this prayer” and now expect it. Unorthodox? Yes, but I thank God for the creative power of the Holy Spirit which Jesus continually gives to us.

  29. Sandra Bramble on February 24, 2016 at 11:47

    I am creative in the kitchen, I love to create sauces, I love to bake, just this past weekend, I created a violin cake for one of the youths in my Church, she loved it. As a young girl, I taught myself to sew because I did not want to wear what others had, and that has been a part of my life up to today, I continue to sew except that now I do it at my leisure, where as before it was a business for me. These two things, seem to ground me, I am at peace when I do them, its amazing that God would have been so kind to me, two gifts such as these.

  30. Tom on February 24, 2016 at 11:28

    Creativity is and has been an important ingredient of life. Years ago, I remember reading “scattered thoughts and fragments, when seen one by one, piece by piece, lead to new and creative outcomes.”
    I’ve expressed my creativity in parenting, teaching, chaplaincy, and woodworking.

  31. Russell on February 24, 2016 at 09:55

    This is a question at the core of my self-image and faith. Ever since I was a child, the one aspect of my self-expression that has been nurtured and recognized by the world around me has been my creativity. I am grateful to be the child of two artists. Neither made a living at it, but both were restlessly and relentlessly creative: making, adapting, forging, envisioning, painting, building and delighting. I have no doubt that this is their best and most enduring gift to me, to encourage my exploration and experimentation. From an early age, I wrote. The main output was poetry, but there were other narratives as well. My parents, grandparents and my teachers were uniformly welcoming of these efforts, and their suggestions about improvement were almost always loving. At least that’s how I received them. Once given a guitar by my grandfather, this creativity poured itself into music and, before long, the expression through popular song was engaging me completely. To this day, fifty years after that instrumental gift, I think of myself primarily as a writer and song writer…which is not to say that my creativity in any way is in this one form only. I build, repair, reclaim, invent and adapt constantly in my work and personal life. I married an artist over forty years ago and our life is full of her output in fabric, paint, craft and cooking. Through my faith journey and especially in my small group experiences, I have come to believe that this creativity is my direct and conscious connection to my Creator and that music, specifically, is His voice speaking to me, making joy out of my despair and making public my deepest emotional and spiritual feelings.

  32. gwedhen nicholas on February 24, 2016 at 09:46

    Well, I paint, play the organ, garden, cook and write. All of these have elements of creativity to them. All these things contribute to a feeling of wellbeing and wholeness; being grounded in God. I love to paint portraits, play the organ for church, garden in the Spring, cook everyday and blog. If I don’t do at least one of these things then something is missing in my day, and I feel discontent , and as if I haven’t lived the day properly. Being creative is joining God in His creativity.What a privilege!

  33. Kelley on February 24, 2016 at 09:39

    I’m creative with my quilting. I’m hoping to start a new one this afternoon – I’m SOO excited!!

  34. Wendy on February 24, 2016 at 09:14

    My creativity is knitting, As I make hat for chemo patients my prayers are infused in each stitch. I also design hats. I feel that God gave me this and I must share it with others.

  35. Michael on February 24, 2016 at 09:13

    I come from a line of creative people, but believe many have never found the method of their creativity, From creative pray to cooking and all the more traditional forms, creativity is God’s hand in our lives adding joy, beauty and simply fun to our world. We need to spend less time defining our method and more time exploring what God has put in us. Work at silencing the internal critics we all live with and allow yourself to be pulled along with God’s flow

  36. Robert on February 24, 2016 at 09:12

    My job is creative. I write for a living. And, I teach. Both call for intense creativity. Through a lifetime of experience, the process of being creative is cyclical. There are moments of very high output of intense creativity,while other times there can be a block where it feels empty. This will rise and fall over a four to six month period, depending on the intensity of the outer world. When those low periods come, it is necessary not to panic (something I did a lot in my early career), but instead, give it time and allow space for the well to fill. In time, the creativity returns. It is an amazing experience. In moments of great creativity, it is a liberating experience, almost out of body, where it feels like what is being done has nothing to do with me. I am just a vessel and what is being produced comes from something else. God.

  37. Darla on February 24, 2016 at 09:04

    My major expressions of my creativity are in painting and writing. Your post reminded me that at one time I was more creative in prayer and that I also use to express my creativity through dance. Thank you for the invitation to lead a more creative life.

  38. Sally on February 24, 2016 at 09:04

    I love to garden and make the yard around my home a feast for the eye and the soul. Birds and other wild animals come to visit and “we” share this beauty that God has allowed me to create. I am my best self here, communing with nature and God.

  39. William Spies on February 24, 2016 at 09:04

    I think that I mostly find prayer to be from my heart if I also am out in nature where I can see the vastness of God’s creation around me. prayer in church also is easier for me since I feel also in an enviroment where I can be quiet as I pray and feel God is listening. now that said I am not still able to find in business or other stressful environments able to focus enough to really pray from my heart since my mind is trying at the same time to confront whatever issue I am dealing with.

  40. Jim Deppe on February 24, 2016 at 08:44

    Photography is my creative outlet and I really enjoy immersing myself in the process of viewing nature through a lens and exploring different ways of capturing images of creation. Living near the ocean and enjoying being in the surf and riding the waves, I particularly love to work with the dynamic and constantly evolving shape of a breaking wave. Shooting a photo of a wave while imagining myself riding it pulls me out of the humdrum and into a more focused awareness of God in the world around me.

  41. Bobbi on February 24, 2016 at 08:38

    How are you creative? Thank you Br. Keith for lifting up the idea of both the internal creative process and the outcome or final product. As a # 3 on the Enneagram, I focus on tangible outcomes; my challenge is to delight in the process. Recently I have made the commitment to two twenty minutes of centering prayer a day. Before I begin, I pray that I will be with God in the process, rather than think about what God is creating in me. I pray to feel God in me, not think of God outside of me. This is hard work, but I believe that if I show up every day, so will God.

  42. Bettie on February 24, 2016 at 07:54

    I’m not creative. Always needed a pattern to follow. Fear of not doing it right. follow directions. Yet within that boundary, did all kinds of needlework/sewing, gardening; arthritis took those things away. Now: could work on creativity in prayer…remove dependence on the prayer book. Can give more attention to planning my garden and finding someone to do the physical part…I realize I’m ‘paralyzed’ just thinking about how to add creativity to my life. Prayer must be the answer.

    • K.D. on February 24, 2016 at 09:46

      Movement was my first step in being creative with prayer. I can take my favorite verses or prayers and say them while walking, or to a simple, side to side stepping motion. I also have a pesky fear of not doing it right, but there’s no right or wrong way to move. Sometimes it leads to dancing! A lot of other creative projects have been born just by moving my body.

  43. Pat on February 24, 2016 at 07:54

    I don’t think of myself as particularly creative: I am an ardent consumer of others’ creativity! I am more of a tinkerer myself. Perhaps it is my role to nourish creativity in others more generously. I think about my amazing grandchildren. Although they live far away, I can nurture their creativity and their individuality. I can help my students shape their creative ideas into manageable packages that can compete in the world of science. Vicarious creativity is something to cultivate in my garden.

  44. Cindy M on February 24, 2016 at 07:34

    Creativity moves my soul, motivates me to action and draws me in. I love “Praying in Color”, praying in song, developing new ideas into programs or writing, putting flowers about the house to enjoy beauty, walking in nature and looking for the infinite signs of God’s creativity, pretending with my granddaughter…

  45. Kristi on February 24, 2016 at 07:06

    I don’t think of myself has a very creative person, but I do enjoy activities that some might consider creative or artistic. I have yet to try doing some of these things related to prayer, though. I come from a very traditional faith-based background, which is where my comfort lies. I would like to learn ways in which I can broaden the way I worship, pray and practice my faith. I could envision a scenario when I offer up my practice of these activities as a time to share with God.

  46. Suzanne on February 24, 2016 at 06:54

    I enjoy being creative and like to do a number of things like sewing, cooking, knitting, etc. Invariably these require some form of perfection. A number of years ago I began to hear God speak through nature. At first it almost seemed made up. Sharing of those moments with a spiritual director, I was encouraged to take these as God messages and pray into them. This is a creativity that I cannot force or perfect. While this requires intentionality on my part, I must wait on God for the message. In the waiting I have been able to find a deep lasting peace.

  47. Jim V on February 24, 2016 at 06:33

    My creativity expresses itself multiple ways. One is in music. I love music, to listen, to sing, or to play. One of the things I most enjoy is just to start playing chords and melodies and see where that takes me like a prayer.
    I am also creative in thoughts and ideas. I love to read and add to and develop ideas. This serves me well in my work life where I need to solve problems and puzzles. I also find myself creative in leading groups and getting them to agreements and solve problems.

  48. Diane on February 24, 2016 at 06:30

    Thank you for this thought about being creative in prayer. I love “Praying in Color” which I discovered several years ago in a book from Paraclete Press. It gives me the freedom to let whatever is needed at the moment bubble to the page and become an active prayer. I also like to pray while walking–especially when I walk along paths that border water. Seems to soothe my chaos and gives rhythm to my day. A gratitude journal is also helpful for me at night–something that I have to be very disciplined about and need to get back to doing.

  49. Betty on February 24, 2016 at 06:08

    I am creative in how I play. I recently realized this when I began to engage in play with my newborn granddaughter. I love to play in silly ways with her and will let my imagination run wild so we can laugh be silly and connect. I love to be creative it allows me to experience the full joy of life.

  50. Muriel Akam on February 24, 2016 at 04:08

    Thank you for this. I too love drawing and watercolour and last year I took up oils which I’d wanted to do for a while but put off thinking it’d be messy and smelly. But I have love it- the texture, intensity of colour that one can achieve!! I pray every morning as a routine , standard prayers for my family but sometimes I just try to keep it short with a thank you for everything and to feel a moment of being with God.

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