When creativity wanes (or: when all you see and feel is dark, swirling nothingness)

When I think of creativity, I cannot help but go immediately to Genesis 1 and the Creation Story. It doesn’t matter (at least to me) whether you believe it literally, figuratively, mythically, archetypally, or at all. That’s not the point. It’s a gorgeous story that gives us imagery, license, and blessing to go forth and do the same: to create with wild abandon and call it good!

It’s the beginning of all that is. Only nothingness exists. Things are formless and empty. Sound familiar? And darkness hovers. Even remotely close to describing the sometimes-state of your brain, your heart, your world? Uh huh. Thought so.

From a swirling state of nothing, creativity bursts forth.

  • god creates light and says it is good.
  • god creates separation from the waters and spaces of dry land and says it is good.
  • god creates plants and vegetation that burst forth and says it is good.
  • god creates day and night – separate from one another – and says it is good.
  • god creates the glorious creatures that fill the seas and skies and says it is good.
  • god creates man and woman in divine image and says it is good. 
  • god rests. It is good.

The acceleration of the story, the quickening pace, the life that spontaneously explodes with each stanza, the exponential layers of growth and creativity and creation, cannot not bring forth a response of joy.

Creation (and creativity) summons forth joy.

No matter your religious or spiritual proclivities (or not), the act of creating is the thing that connects us most profoundly to who we are at core; to who we are as individuals made in the image of god; to god’s self as creator.

For me, the opposite is also true:

When I feel furthest from my truest self, from my deepest heart, from god, it is creation (and creativity) that brings me back; it is creativity’s joy that brings me home.

When in my darkest places and oft’ swirling spaces of nothingness, the slightest ray of hope peeks in when I will allow that god created from the same. And if I can hold on to even a shred of belief that I am god’s creation…well…then that means I’ve got the same DNA.

I can stay in nothingness a little longer. I can hold on to faith. Creation – light, beauty, pure and gorgeous humanity, and unfathomable joy is on the way.

It is good.

It’s all good.



Big love to JenMarianne, and Susannah for inviting me to muse and write on my own Creative Joy. They are committed to yours. Will you join them at their retreat in July?

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    { 8 comments… read them below or add one }

    Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady April 17, 2012 at

    Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady recently posted..The Cure for the Helper Hangover – Boundaries


    Ronna Detrick April 20, 2012 at

    Thank you, Theresa…


    Heather Plett April 17, 2012 at

    I just wrote some of these very same thoughts in my journal as I prepare for my Creative Discovery workshop on Saturday!

    One of the things that I’ve always been struck with in the creation story is that the first thing God asks of people is for them to do a creative act and join in co-creation. Their task is to name the animals. It seems significant to me.


    Ronna Detrick April 20, 2012 at

    It is HUGELY significant, Heather. And I love that you’ve “named” it. Do NOT get me started (or maybe you should). I have so many thoughts about what this means, why it matters, what it calls forth…


    Cath Duncan April 17, 2012 at

    What leaps out at me is god’s self-talk through the creative process. It’s been a good 1o years since I read a bible, so I don’t know if the “it is good” reflection after each little step of creativity is the original scripture or your add, Ronna, but either way, it strikes me that appreciating/ loving/ treasuring each little step of creativity on the way to our ultimate vision is a good way to go. I know that I often struggle with negative/ “not enough” kind of self-talk through the creative process and it can squeeze the joy out of the creative process!

    As I begin writing my “Shameless Grief” book, I think I’ll practice saying, “It is good” for each little unfinished step along the way, as I create the book structure and write each chapeter. I’m sure that will make it a much more enjoyable process!
    Cath Duncan recently posted..Ubuntu: Creating A Wholehearted Life After Loss


    Ronna Detrick April 20, 2012 at

    It is the original text, Cath…and I love how you’ve heard/incorporated it: as God’s self-talk and solid, kind affirmation of all that is being birthed – each step of the way. xoxo


    Agnes McBeth March 1, 2013 at

    Hello Sis. Ronna, I love your website. I found it doing a search for the relationship between the creative acts of God and darkness. (I don’t mind adding that this is for my Credo, as a final step for the M.Div). I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this (as I can tell by your writing that you’ve studied the topic), or share some of your sources. I myself am digging into Cordovero and Luria’s Kabbalah. Thanks!


    Ronna Detrick March 1, 2013 at

    So grateful you’re here, Agnes. And what a fascinating topic for your Credo. Honestly, most of my thought around this has come out of my own experience; searching for ways to understand darkness and maybe even embrace it as the place in which God dwells most profoundly. Three recommendations that are not so much on “darkness;” rather, womens’s suffering: The Female Face of God in Auschwitz, Women and the Value of Suffering, and Joan Chittister’s Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope.


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