O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention. (Shakespeare)
I just finished listening – yes, again – to Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk about genius and the creative muse.
I love the romantic notion of this; of having an imagined-but-felt something that offers divine inspiration. A daemon, a spirit, even a fairy that is whimsical, hardly in my control, but no less real.
And then it strikes me: God is like this: a spirit to be sure, most certainly whimsical, not even remotely in my control, but no less real. What if God was my muse? Is this sacrilegious? Am I crazy?
Nearly every single day I struggle to write, to be inspired, to say something/anything even remotely intelligent, let alone meaningful to another. And despite both Shakespeare’s and Elizabeth Gilbert’s invocation to an idea-generating “being” in my midst, I often feel alone – slogging it out at my laptop. But what if I didn’t? Not the slogging; that’s gonna have to happen no matter what. What if I didn’t do it alone?
This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writer’s don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight…Ideas come. Insights accrete.
(Steven Pressfield, The War of Art)
This shouldn’t be that hard of a leap for me to make. Really, given my education, my training, my life experience, even my beliefs (not to mention my near-worship-level appreciation for Steven Pressfield)? Forgive me. It’s clear I’m writing this post to inspire myself. God shows up¸ right? More self-convincing, I know…
God shows up through big amazing things – like sunsets and oceans and the births of babies. God shows up through ordinary beings like us: our actions, our hopes, our loves. And if we still weren’t convinced (which apparently, I’m not) God shows up in even the smallest of things…
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, a silence in which
another voice may speak.
(Prayer by Mary Oliver)
“Another voice may speak.” Could it be? God as muse. And me as the Muse’s servant. Which, as all writers and artists know, is the way of things. I’m under no illusion that it’s the other way around…
Have I gone too far? Too crazy to wish (or pray) for?
When I trust that God exists, is present, and maybe even shows up, all manner of miracles are possible.
God as my muse? Who knows what I might yet write! What I might yet create? Who I might yet become?