BTW: I know that my posts are long. Think of them as chapters for a book...hopefully Also, I would really like to receive more comments from anyone who might read this stuff. I want to know if I am doing any good with all of this blogging. Having some more followers wouldn't hurt either...hint, hint.
So this morning I got up early and decided to head over to the the Farmer's Market in St. Paul. I figured I could make a quick run before heading off to Living Waters. Of all of the various farmer's markets around Twin Cities, the market in St. Paul is by far my favorite. Plus, since I live near the MOA, it makes it an easy shot to hit the River Road that runs along the Mississippi and be downtown in 15 minutes.
It's also nice to get there early. I don't like crowds very much. It's not that I am claustrophobic, it is because I walk at a very fast pace. It drives some of my friends nuts when we go places. I'll simply start outpacing people. "Jeez, Joe. Would ya slow down!?" "I can't help it! This is just me."
Minnesotans tend to be a bit on the big side to begin with. Then you throw in the fact that the average American simply pays no attention to how their behavior affects those around them, and you get large group of big people waddling slowly about in an incoherent manner. (Like sheep without a shepherd...except blindfolded & louder) I have a frustrating time with this, and often wish that I could carry a small cattle prod with me for just such occasions.
Well, as it turns out, the south bound lane of the River Road was blocked off for some type of bicycle race. I had to get to the Market by another way. Once I arrived I immediately set out to find red & orange sweet Bell peppers. You see, I taught myself how to roast and then to can, peppers this past month. I love to cook. You would know that if you saw my belly. The Farmer's market is a great place to find fresh veggies...and at an excellent price. I walked out of there with over 30 huge peppers for only $18.
The Farmer's Market is not a massive complex by any means. However, they manage to squeeze all sorts of tables in there, with all manner of product. Most of the stalls sell vegetables. However, there are vendors who sell organic poultry, pork, bison, sometimes even fresh trout. You name it, they probably sell it. Other vendors sell homemade candles, needle work & bread. Plus, there are musicians there who sing in hopes of receiving tips. There are only three main aisles to the market, and those aisles are only about 40 yards in length. But as you walk these aisles, all five of your senses will experience all manner of sensation. In particular, I enjoy the different smells that can turn on a dime every ten feet.
Across the street, I noticed a man playing guitar & harmonica. You need a vending license to work inside the market. I don't know if you need anything to play a guitar on a street corner. Perhaps he was breaking some obscure law. If he was, no one was hassling him about it. He was playing the song, "Hey, Bo Diddely." He seemed to really be enjoying himself. In fact, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. It was a beautiful, warm Sunday morning in September, and all was right with the world. Even I was enjoying myself...despite the fact that my quick pace was being thwarted by large, slow moving, clueless people, and I had no access to a cattle prod to remedy it.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
When you read the first of the three different creation stories, all types of issues & ideas pop out. (Yes, there really are 3 different stories, and they all have specific intentions behind the stories they tell) One of the themes that I have always loved about the first story is the intentional theme of creativity that is woven into it. The Hebrew word that is used for "Created" is the word "Bara." Apparently Bara denotes a very intentional, willful & forceful act of creating. (Abba is a very Willful God) What you will notice next is that everything that is created gets more and more complex until the final created item, which is humanity.
(Actually, if you want to have some fun and go a little loose with the text and what I just stated, then it turns out that women are superior to men. After all, they were created after men if you take the stories literally. So, if each creation is superior & more complex then the previous...you get the idea. Most husbands will certainly admit that women are a lot more complicated then men. HA!)
Anyway, as God is going about His work, once He gets to organic living things, He gives them the power to create too. Specifically, God has them recreating themselves endlessly. The phrase, "According to their kind," is used over and over again. So, God's creation is given the gift of creativity...at least in so far as recreating their own kind.
Now, when God gets to His ultimate creation, which is people, He doesn't use the phrase "according to their kind." Instead, God says "Let us make man in our image." He also says twice that people are to be in control over the rest of creation. Specifically, God uses the phrase "and let them RULE over..." Actually, I have heard that a better understanding of that phrase is that people are supposed to be responsible for the creation.
When God made humanity in his image it certainly wasn't in physical appearance. After all, the Bible says that God is Spirit. He can't be seen by finite, limited humans. So, what is a part of this image of God that people are supposed to have? Well, my old seminary professors were quick to point out that humans are God's representatives on earth. We are supposed to be ambassadors of the Most High, and to kind of act like little mini-gods. This means that we are to take care of that which God created. (The whole environmental aspect of this will be for another post some time down the road.) However, it also means that we were all given the ability to be creative, because God is creative.
Think about that for a bit. Think about just how wonderful that is.
I fully believe that all people, no matter who they are, have some type of creative streak in them. I also believe that the reason that some people pop a bolt and go nuts is that they never harness that creativity with a healthy outlet, or that they never bother to find out what they are creative about in the first place.
My friend Moy-Moy is a very gifted artist. He has made some of the most amazing paintings I have ever seen. I don't know if they will ever make him a millionaire. But I do know that if he couldn't paint, he would surely pull out what remains of the hair on his head. My friend Tom is a good musician. He likes to "Thwack" his bass when he is playing in the worship service at Living Waters. Indeed, verily didst he Thwack said bass in yon service this past Sunday.
For myself, as I said before, I love to cook. Most of the time I try to cook odd & obscure ethnic recipes just to see if I can do it. I also like to cartoon. I like to garden...usually herbs and hot peppers. This summer, I discovered in the course of repairing my parent's yard after a pine tree fell over, that I am really good at landscaping. (I love getting muddy!) I also discovered that I am a halfway decent writer, and hence this blog.
People are naturally creative because God hard-wired us for it. You don't even have to be a follower of Jesus to understand that. And one size does not fit all. Maybe you're cooking could make a man with no sense of taste or smell vomit profusely at it's awfulness. Maybe your singing causes dogs in the next county to howl at the moon. Still, you must be creative at at least one thing. Maybe it's working on cars. Maybe it's carpentry. These things are not always recognized as being an artform, but you really do have to be creative to be good at them.
Being creative is a part of the heritage that all people share, Believer and non-believer alike, from being made in God's image. A while back in my post titled "God does a guitar solo," I stated that all things that are beautiful & true are of God...even if they come from non-believers. I still think that is true. I think that all things that folks create that are lovely, creative and beautiful are in some way tied into this first account of creation. God created humanity to be creative. This is what we do. This is what we are. Without an outlet for that, we go nuts.
It is interesting to note that after God created people, He uses the phrase to describe this newest & final creation "and it was VERY good." Up till that point, He only says that all of the rest of creation was simply Good.
I don't know where any given reader of this blog falls on the idea that these three creation stories are literal, or that they are allegories, metaphors & such. I DO know that folks who insist on the idea that every word has to be taken as literal, and that all things were created in a literal 6 days with 24 hours in them, are asking for trouble when they study the story in it's context. Also, when you do fixate on that thought, you really do miss so much of the beautiful ideas that are conveyed in the bigger picture of this story. There is enough in this first story alone to fill a book all by itself.
So, the musician across the street from the St. Paul Farmer's Market was wailing away on his guitar. He was blowing into that harmonica and alternately singing,
"Saw my baby run across the field,
Slippin and slidin like an automobile,
Hollerin, my baby got towed away,
Slipped on from me like a cadillac-8.
Hey, Bo Diddley!"
I drove home along the other lane of the River Road that had not been shut off. I stopped and asked a cop what was up with the road closing. He said that St. Paul was having some type of family marathon for cyclists. I thought, "Hmm, Lance Armstrong with toddlers and no steroids." Cycling can be fairly creative. Plus, doing something with the whole family is a good thing.
I watched what seemed like a thousand cyclists whizzing past me in the opposite lane...with their kids in tow. I looked out over the Mississippi river down below them and myself. The sky was blue. The morning was warm. Not bad.
"God saw all that He had made, and it was VERY good.
And there was evening and there was morning...the sixth day."