Two Sides.
One Coin.

Creativity flows from the deepest part of our person. What we make is an expression of who we are – our formation.

My dad embodied these ideas, maintaining an uncanny integrity and creative disposition regardless of where he was found – at work or with his family and friends.

Formation

My dad was a quintessential husband – loving, gentle, strong, providing, protecting, and caring. He was also a quintessential father – present, teaching, guiding, watchful, my net when I jumped. This isn't to say that he was perfect. Nor is it to say that he somehow came from the perfect place, in the perfect family, with the perfect circumstances to have become such a person.

It is to say that the combination of what my dad believed, what he experienced, and how he expressed himself formed him into the person he was.

Everyone gets a spiritual formation, and it is this formation that is the ongoing activity that we all are immersed in. All the time, all the parts of who we are are being formed.

We each have a choice with regards to our part in this process. It can be passive, letting our formation just happen. Or it can be active, engaging with and doing what we can for our part of the process.

Becoming an active partner in our own formation invites us into interactive relationship with the deepest parts of ourselves, and with deep mysteries of life. Here, the Institute considers two complimentary ideas: the realities and processes that are true regardless of specific world view or tradition and the uniqueness of specific world views and propositions of life.

The realities and processes that are common to spiritual formation regardless of specific proposition or tradition include things like the parts of the person, the act of following and apprenticeship, and the experience of immersion. When specific propositions are required the Institute follows the propositions of life as presented in the person of Jesus Christ as the way.

Central here is the idea that the process of spiritual formation is ultimately a creative act. One in which what we believe to be possible, what we can envision, and our choices of action, all contribute to the final outcome: the person we become.

Creativity

My dad brought me into the room, and sat me down. We had a particular curtain in this room that had painterly effects all over it. Different colors, splatters and strokes, lines and shades, were found all over this curtain. My dad sat me down and asked, "What to do you see?"

"I don't know." I responded shyly.

My dad then slowly began to nudge me. "Do you see the face?" My sight began to shift as he started to point out the features. In this instant my dad taught me a way of seeing what is hidden.

Creativity is at the heart of transformation. It is what allows us to think that something completely new is possible.

Creativity is a function of vision. The creative person is the one who makes a choice that others couldn't see was available, let alone possible. To learn creativity, then, is to learn how to see what isn't readily visible.

This happens in a process. First there is the realization that every moment of choice has the potential of immense creativity. Even small choices that we take for granted have creative potential when reconsidered.

Comfort with experimentation comes next. This is the adoption of the beginners mind, that sets aside current knowledge allowing for discovery. It is the adoption of the way of the archeologist, that digs for something they hope to find but can't see yet. It is the adoption of the mind of a scientist, that experiments with a hypothesis in mind. It is the mind of a student whose aim has been set by a trustworthy teacher.

The development of the creative muscle is one that can take deep roots. Not just a skill to be applied in a particular circumstance – like creating a work of art – creativity can be a way of navigating life, a disposition, even a character trait – but not without a supportive program of formation.

And there we close the loop. With a solid formation our creative choices can be automatically directed towards what is good. We can feel more free, easy, and joyful. This is the proposition of life that fundamental transformation allows for. Spiritual formation and creativity are central processes in that journey.

Everything happens in the context of relationship. Change the way we relate and our entire world changes.
Andrew Nemr
The Nemr Institute is a 501(c)3 Not-for-Profit.

Dedicated in loving memory to Joseph Nemr.

Engaging creative communities around transformational experiences.
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