Monday, September 17, 2012

Creativity and Theological Field Education Supervision

Creativity and Theological Field Education Supervision

We gathered two, three, five then seven women on a perfectly beautiful Saturday morning, seven sane women giving over a perfectly beautiful Saturday morning to Name Game, Dr, Know-It-All, Peeves and Rants - all manner of jumping, shouting, laughing, ridiculous [from and "adult" perspective] games.  On a perfectly beautiful Saturday morning seven sane women played games for three hours.  Why did we play games for three hours on a perfectly beautiful Saturday morning, you might ask - [beware - here comes the paradox] - because we had work to do.   We had important work to do, official work to do, pressing work to do.  We had to design a program and devise an implementation strategy, including time line - now.  So for three hours we played together.  Then we broke bread together.  Then, and only then, did we begin to work on our project.

Creativity shakes up our linear thinking, creativity encourages us to connect, creativity call us to knowing in ways that engage multiple senses and intelligences.  Creativity is integrative.

"But I am not creative!"  Yes, I hear the wail from here.  Have you wondered why children don't regularly proclaim, "I am not creative!"?  Because children have not been thoroughly starched, pressed and folded into the uniform box shape of adulthood.  The good new is that starch and folds can be washed right out - go play in the rain for five minutes, seriously.  You will be amazed.  I do not paint, sculpt, dance, act, or sing (I was the only student invited not to join the high school chorus), and yet I am discovering creativity.

What in the world does this have to do with theological field education - the serious business of preparing the next generation of religious leaders?  First of all, at its best, this work in not business but art and craft, knowledge and openness, planning and improvisation. The Free Online Dictionary declares that "inspire" and "breathe" have common Indo-European roots.  Found in the Hebrew Bible "ruach" means variously breath, wind, spirit.  Is it possible that creativity and Spirit are kindred? Is it possible that clearing space and time for Spirit is necessary to to enter the holy stream of the ongoing work of creating?

But what about those seven sane women and our irresponsible playing when we had Important Work To Be Done?  By 3:00pm on that perfectly beautiful Saturday, we had collaboratively created an innovative program, implementation plan, and time line - with an hour to spare.  In the midst we discovered joy in community.   Joy in community, innovative common work, inspiration, permission to breathe, Spirit space - and a most important piece - permission to mess up, look silly and learn from what "adults" usually hide in shame.  Might this be what life-giving religious leadership is all about?

"Creativity is contagious, pass it on" – Albert Einstein
Trudy Hawkins Stringer

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