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Reflections from Rev. Emily Gage

What does it mean to be a people of Creativity?

Rev. Emily Gage, Minister of Faith Development

In a children’s book called The Dot by Peter Reynolds, a young girl is struggling in art class because she believes she can’t draw.

When she confesses this to her teacher, the teacher smiles. “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.” So the young girl, Vashti, defiantly puts a dot in the middle of the paper. The teacher picks it up, looks at it for a long while, and says, “Sign it.” When Vashti returns to art class she looks above her teacher’s desk, and she is surprised to see “It was the little dot she had drawn--her dot! All framed in swirly gold!”

    I can’t tell you how much I love this story. I love this story in part because it is the opposite of stories people sometimes tell about the music teacher who told them to mouth the words many years ago, so they never sing. Or some variation on that theme. Sometimes we even tell ourselves those stories, like Vashti did. It’s all too easy to get those messages about what we can’t do. Or that we aren’t good enough, maybe because we are comparing ourselves to someone else. But Vashti’s teacher helped her to see past the “can’t”. She made Vashti’s dot into art. She helped Vashti see it was art, by asking her to sign it, and hanging it up.

    Lucky Vashti.

    Sometimes it takes someone else showing us our own potential. Sometimes it takes someone else having faith in us. Sometimes it takes an encouraging word or gesture.  Creativity is not an easy venture. Especially when we are embarking on a new adventure or are heading out of our comfort zone or about to risk boldly---all pieces of a creative endeavor--we are often in need of a little encouragement.

    Vashti’s story doesn’t stop there, though. She takes a look at her swirly gold framed dot, and she says, “Hmmph! I can make a better dot than that!” and she “open[s] her never before used set of water colors and set[s] to work.” She makes all kinds of dots, dots in all sorts of colors, all sorts of sizes; she experiments in all sorts of ways.

    Because here’s the thing--once you get going, creativity is hard to stop. Once you realize that you can do things differently or do altogether new things, it leads you to places you never even dreamed of.

    Vashti’s story continues, when, a few weeks later, there’s a big art show, and Vashti’s dots are a big hit. At the show, Vashti meets a little boy who says to her, “You’re a really great artist. I wish I could draw.” “I bet you can,” says Vashti. The little boy tells her he can’t even draw a straight line with a ruler. Vashti smiles and hands the boy a blank sheet of paper. “Show me,” she says. He draws, with a shaky hand. Vashti looks at his squiggle for a while, and then she says, “Sign it.”

    May your month be full of creativity--full of experiments, and new things, and risking, and seeing past the “I can’ts”. And when you doubt yourself--if you do--know that someone somewhere believes in you, and is cheering you on.