“Do those who plow for sowing plow continually? Do they continually open and harrow their ground? when they have leveled its surface, do they not scatter dill, sow cummin, and plant wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and spelt as the border?” ~~ Isaiah 28: 24-25 I was at a retreat recently, “Bearing the Cross,” at which the designated leader couldn’t attend because of an illness he’d picked up while on a mission trip to Africa. What he had planned could not be, and what he’d carefully prepared was laid aside. A new plan was brought together at the last minute by some folks who were attending another retreat at the same site and who would be also attending the next retreat also. Most of us are so used to experiencing “packaged programs” that have been through the process of honing to a finished and polished product that we are no longer comfortable with the “creative process” itself. Many of us no longer create in our own lives anymore: we don’t weave our own cloth, sew our own clothes, make our own jewelry, grow our own food, can our own vegetables, put up our own jams and jellies, and many of us are not even “priests in our own families.” We have given almost all creative and spiritual work over to “the professionals.” A few of us engage in the creative process by experimenting with food and creating new recipes, but most of us follow someone else’s tested template or buy a creation from a caterer or a big box store kitchen. Some of us will decorate our own homes, but who buys real art anymore? Many are afraid to risk choosing because they know next to nothing about the creative process, design, color, image, or how a painting or sculpture shapes a room. Therefore, they buy a print or an architectural shape at Hobby Lobby or another art/craft store or put a large framed mirror in the space and call it good. But the arts haven’t been taught seriously for over a half a century and have been relegated to a “frill” as we have concentrated on the basics in our schools. Therefore, we have lost the ability to think creatively in the process and have doomed ourselves to being a second class innovative nation. No wonder we can’t “think outside the box,” much as I hate that term! The box represents the “one answer that is correct,” as in a math problem. In art, however, many answers can be correct and this is what confuses people. In a way, art is like philosophy. The questions, “what is beautiful, what is art?” are similar to “what is real, what is true?” in philosophy. Just as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle came up with different answers to the same questions, so artists of varying centuries have produced works of art that are beautiful. Once our group realized that we were the original designers of the project for the retreat, and we were the first to define and shape the “Stations of the Cross” installation for the retreat center, then we caught on that we were exploring an unknown land and we had no maps to guide us. We were truly the first to explore these uncharted regions! Then we would plow a bit, stop and check our rows, and then go and plow some more. We alternated between work and rest, taking the opportunity to reflect on where we’d been, and to consider where to go next. God was guiding our hands and our hearts to be creative for his works.