Way back in the day I remember one of the “older” neighborhood kids telling me about the movie Jaws. We were standing on her front porch on a sunny afternoon I was 7 maybe 8 years old. I remember having nightmares about a shark attacking me and falling out of bed. My imagination worked overtime that night that’s for sure. Then there was the time I was the only kid on the swings at our local playground, singing to my hearts content, making up whatever songs in a Karen Carpenter style. It’s such a sweet memory.
In my early twenties I worked with small children in child care then as a nanny. Dr. Seuss books were always a favorite as these little people were often fully engaged. Dr. Seuss often made up words in these books like “sneetches” and “lorax”, creating names like “Thing 1” and “Yertle”. He tapped into both verbal, and visual creativity while creating stories that allowed, encouraged and supported children to take their creativity to a deeper level.
The other day I read this article on Aleteia. It caught my attention because I love Dr. Seuss and I enjoy tapping into creativity. The article brought back a moment when one of the kids in my care was making up words, a la Dr Seuss, and his mom told him to use real words. At four his vocabulary and command of the English language reflected his age, and clearly his level of creativity. In one sense we want to encourage the creativity of children, and in another we want them to conform to the style of learning that will allow them to adapt to what we consider societal norm.
I really appreciated the author’s change of heart on Dr. Seuss, and further the reminder that Dr. Seuss writes about children being children. Children are in the process of gaining experience, learning, discovering and exercising their imaginations. Children are learning how to express their themselves intellectually, emotionally, and creatively. It’s not easy for them ask they are going through the process of learning when the adults around them are demanding what is considered good behavior, a great command of language, and the emotional maturity that adults are finally recognizing that we don’t necessarily have.
One of the things that quilting has allowed me to do is exercise the imagination God has given me in a way that points toward the good, permitting me to make mistakes, explore color, and line and form and shape. As a quilting teacher helping you to tap into this imagination is essential to being able to freely pursue quilting without the constraints of what other people think about our quilt making. Children create without thought of what it looks like or what colors they’re using. They create without restraint. There is one class I teach that is an exercise in creative thinking, a way to look beyond the constraint of form and line that is inherent in piecing. The last page in the handout has an empty square smack dab in the middle of it. I placed it there as it riffs on a drawing technique that is wildly popular right now. However there is so much more we can do with this page. There is a whole page to fill in, rather than simply a square. This is the most difficult page of all because having so much space in which to quilt whatever we want is overwhelming for us. We are free to exercise our imagination and creativity and become childlike in our joy.
Dear ones imagination and creativity are a gift from God. Exercising this gift is up to us. Imagination and creativity can, and hopefully do, move us from fear of judgement and help us to develop a greater sense of who we are. This is the space for us to enter more deeply into our relationship with God, with our self, and remove self-recrimination and harsh self-judgement from our lives. We definitely need practice reflecting on areas of our life where we need to repent and change, this is an essential component of spiritual growth. However we also need to stop being so hard on ourselves. In the last couple of weeks that message has come through loud and clear. When we stop being so hard on our self we can be kinder and gentler with others. We can see their imaginative and creative work for what it is, a time with God becoming more of who God calls us to be. Quilting is the place for us to give into the overwhelming, reckless love of God to be loved and see where He’s leading us.
Imagination and Creativity can lead us to growing and honing our skill-set. Honing our skill-set is a good thing however for some of us there is an underlying tendency toward perfectionism that can then stifle creativity and imagination. We head back to the self-deprecating, and self-demeaning things can, and often do, lead to us not being willing to try something new creatively. Or worse, to feel deep shame because something isn’t perfect.
Exercise your creativity and imagination. Be child-like in how you do it, embracing a sense of trust in God and in the wonder that your imagination brings to you. Let go of the worry, anxiety and fear of what others think about the things that you’re doing. These things are not of God and they hinder not only your quilting, but your relationship with Him. Earlier in 2018 it was a deep seated sense of fear that hindered me from doing so very much quilting and writing. Imagination contains a bit of wonder and awe.
As 2018 ends and 2019 begins take a moment to Imagine living closer to God. Let’s let Him guide our imaginations for our quilts. And like Karen Carpenter and small children, “Let’s not worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear, Just Sing…Sing a song”