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An inspiring gift to uplift your spirit and share with others, whatever your faith, you can do God’s To-Do List.
God is very creative.
If the Bible is a biography of God, isn't it curious that there is no account of how God came to be? Depending on your translation, the opening line is:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth ... (NIV)
When God began to create heaven and earth ... ( JPS)
At the beginning of God's creating of the heavens and earth ... (Fox)
Notice that God is not created. God's existence is assumed.
We quickly learn the first characteristic of God: God creates.
In rapid succession, God creates the heavens and the earth, light, darkness, sky, earth, sun, and moon; creatures of the sea, sky, and land; and humankind.
How does God create?
God said: "Let there be light"; and there was light. GENESIS 1:3
God the Creator calls the world into being.
Once something is created, God perceives it andassesses it:
God saw that the light was good ... GENESIS 1:4
Then, God names the creation:
God called the light Day ... GENESIS 1:5
The act of creation, then, begins with intention-often expressed in words, creating something, looking at it, judging it, naming it, and-ultimately-documenting and remembering it.
God's ultimate creations-human beings-are endowed with this same capacity to create.
The Gift of Creating
Samuel Morse was a creator. He intended to create a method of communication between human beings over long distances. There had been other methods of speaking to each other: smoke signals, tom-toms, bonfires on mountaintops, and torches. But these had very limited range. Morse wanted to use his knowledge of physics and electricity to invent an apparatus to enable communication over long distances. After nine years of trial and error, he finally succeeded in sending a message from Washington to Baltimore. It read:
What hath God wrought?
Morse, a partner with God in creation, knew that this was very good.
He named his invention the telegraph.
It changed the world.
Sometimes, inspiration drives creativity.
My father, Alan, is a sometimes inventor. A dental technician in World War II, he dreamed for years of inventing a new kind of toothbrush, one that would brush both sides of the teeth simultaneously. He thought it would be useful for children, the elderly, and even dogs. He played with numerous ideas, but none of them really worked. Then, one day, he experienced a flash of inspiration while watching a custodian polish the floor in a shopping mall. He reasoned that a circular brush, like the one on the floor polisher, would do a much better job cleaning the teeth and gums than the standard rectangular brush. By putting two small circular brushes facing each other, you could brush both sides of the teeth at the same time!
To tell the truth, the first prototype of Dad's toothbrush hardly evoked aha's. In fact, most people who saw it reacted with ha-ha's. It didn't help that he crudely fashioned the two brushes on the end of a plastic water pistol, which looked pretty scary when he stuck it in his mouth to demonstrate! Undaunted, he went to an inventors fair in a small Nebraska town, someone saw the potential, manufactured a version of the toothbrush, one thing led to another, and two years later, a major company produced the Epi-dent Rotary Toothbrush, based on U.S. Patent 346732879, held by Alan Wolfson, my dad. When he saw his toothbrush being sold in Bloomingdale's in his native New York City, you would have thought he had just won the Nobel Prize.
* * *
Liz Lerman is an extraordinarily creative human being. A dancer and choreographer, Liz has created a nonprofit organization dedicated to practicing the art of dance in its fullest range of functions-as a way to learn, heal, and comprehend the universe, as a performing art on stages around the world, and as a way of organizing and celebrating community. Liz and her troupe-the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange-take up residence in communities and link partners, such as a dance performance space and a prison, a civic center and a senior center, a hospital and a dance festival.
Liz is gifted at using the art of dance and story to enable those who do not necessarily think of themselves as dancers to share personal experiences and ideas. Through community workshops, people from all walks of life discover their capacity to dance and to express themselves through movement. Workshop participants then create a performance she calls a "community participation dance."
Liz believes that no one is too old or too young to dance. With incredible skill, she and her colleagues encourage people who would never in a million years think of themselves as dancers to engage in the creative process of dance.
Imagine, hundreds of people in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, celebrating their two hundred-year-old history in a dance held in the city's naval shipyard! Imagine, a large-scale celebration of the millennium called "The Hallelujah Project," which brought community-based dance performances to cities across America. Imagine, docents and members of a Jewish museum interpreting through dance an exhibit called "The History of Matzah." Imagine, a troupe of dancers moving among the musicians in a symphony orchestra. Imagine participating in a process of sharing personal story, retrieving rituals from the past, and listening to young people envision their futures-all to create an experience called "Prayer as a Radical Act/Radical Action as Prayer."
The latest exploration by Liz is mind-boggling in its creativity. She is currently developing a multimedia work about what's going on in the laboratories of genetic science and what impact this will have on our lives. How we eat, how we heal, how we age, how we procreate-today's scientific culture will deeply affect all these things, and perhaps more quickly than we think. The project is fostering a long-term partnership among a national group of scientists, bioethicists, researchers, clergy, and artists, who will bring their best thinking to bear on the promise and threat of a new biological age. The piece is called "Ferocious Beauty: Genome."
In 2002, Liz Lerman was honored as a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow for her creativity. A treasure trove of her creative techniques can be found in her toolbox at www.danceexchange.org/toolbox/.
* * *
Once, while browsing in an antique store, a small embroidered pillow in the shape of a heart caught my attention. Stitched onto the front of the pillow were these words:
Moms Make Memories
I bought it immediately and gave it to my wife, Susie, as a present, for her God-given talents have blessed our family with a lifetime of precious memories.
For the thirty-six years we've been married and the thirty years we have had children, Susie has been an extraordinarily creative home and memory maker. She transformed our daily meals into experiences, our holidays into theme parties, and our life-cycle events into meaningful celebrations.
A few years ago, she went to a wedding shower where every guest was asked to bring a recipe. The hosts put together the recipes in a book for the bride-to-be, a lovely idea. When the groom's mother flipped through the recipes, her eye caught one for tuna fish salad. It called for yogurt instead of mayonnaise. The groom's mother couldn't help herself and she blurted out: "Yogurt in tuna fish?! My son won't eat yogurt in tuna fish!"
At that moment, Susie had an epiphany. All these guests had brought foreign recipes to the bride. Neither she nor her groom would be familiar with them, because they hadn't grown up with the dishes created by the recipes. Wouldn't it make more sense for the new bride to have recipes for the foods and meals that her groom was used to?
Susie then and there decided that she would write down the recipes she had created and used for our favorite family meals and collect recipes from other family members who bring their specialties to our celebrations.
Susie did much more than transcribe the recipes. She created page upon page of recipes embellished with photos of the people who contributed the recipes and stories about the dish or the meal: Havi's favorite Chinese chicken salad, Michael's favorite "eggies in a hole," Aunt Rose's Jell-O mold, cousin Margo's mandel bread.
The title of the book is Recipes for Memories. It's not a memoir. It's not a cookbook. It's not a scrapbook.
It is the story of our family.
When Susie finished this incredible project, she presented a copy to each of our young adult children. Havi took one look at it and broke down in tears of memory and gratitude. Michael, a hipster and rock music maven, flipped through the pages in amazement and said: "Wow! This is my life!!!" and proceeded to read every word on every page.
The real payoff came the next Passover holiday. Susie always sends Michael a care package of holiday foods and objects before the major Jewish holidays, with the hope that it will encourage him to have some kind of celebration if he's not visiting us. Michael called to thank us for the package. "Mom, Dad ... it was great that you included the matzah ball mix. I actually made some ... and I used your cookbook, Mom!" I thought Susie was going to fall off her chair when she heard that!
You see, in our family, we have a matzah ball battle that would rival anything on Iron Chef. Matzah balls are a kind of dumpling made from matzah (unleavened bread) and eggs. My mom, Michael's grandmother, who in our family is known as Bubbie W. (Bubbie is a Yiddish term of endearment), makes big, fluffy, soft matzah balls that float in a bowl of soup. Susie's dad, aka Zadie K. (Zadie is the Yiddish word for "grandfather"), makes golf-ball-size hard matzah balls that sink to the bottom of the bowl. In Recipes for Memories, Susie created a page with both recipes, a page she titled "Dueling Matzah Balls."
When Michael revealed that he had actually made matzah balls using the cookbook, Susie could hardly contain her curiosity and asked, "Which recipe did you use to make the matzah balls? How did they come out?"
Michael calmly replied: "Well, I was going for Bubbie, but they came out Zadie!"
Sharing Your Spark of Divinity
The Bible is God's memory book. It contains the stories of God's family as they journeyed through life. It details the "recipes" for how to be God's partner in the world. It records for all time God's To-Do Lists.
When you create, you're releasing your godliness into the world.
God is the Creator.
You can be a creator, too.
God's To-Do List
1. Use your God-given gift of creativity-paint, draw, sculpt, photograph, compose, dance, write, cook, bake.
2. Collect evidence of your "creations"-your children, your achievements, your experiences, your journeys-by creating memory scrapbooks to document them, and take pleasure in your creations.
3. Create a CD of your favorite songs, a website, or a blog (online journal).
4. Learn a new skill to use for your creative endeavors, like knitting or calligraphy.
5. Use creativity techniques to broaden your horizons-brainstorm, think outside the box, free-associate.
6. Surround yourself with creative people, creative environments, and creative experiences.
7. Create a new relationship-make a friend, be a Big Brother or a Big Sister (see www.bbbs.org).
8. Gather friends and create a community mural to brighten a neighborhood.
9. "Be fruitful and multiply"-create a bigger family by adopting or having children, or by taking in a foster child.
10. Create a nonprofit organization or activity to support a cause that inspires you. ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
Excerpted from God's To Do List by Ron Wolfson Copyright © 2006 by Ron Wolfson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted March 8, 2012
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