It’s almost exactly a year ago today. I find myself in Fort Wayne, Indiana—a city that I’ve never lived in and where I have almost no friends or connections except for our son and his family, who live next door. I’m alone in an empty house except for the two suitcases I’ve brought with me, along with an easy chair, a lamp, an end table, and an inflatable bed on loan from our kids. I’m bereft of the home, the lifestyle, the job assignment, and the community I’ve enjoyed for almost 13 years.
For me, the last year has been a journey through the wilderness as I’ve dealt with these losses, not to mention the stress and upheaval COVID-19 has brought. Writing has provided a lifeline as I’ve traveled through this desert: personal journaling, blogging, sharing devotionals on our church and diocesan websites, and publishing a stay-at-home retreat guide. To be able to create something in partnership with Papa God—whether it’s simply expressing my own thoughts to Him or crafting a piece for the edification of others—settles my heart and clears my mind.
We each have our pandemic stories to tell, along with our own unique ways of dealing with the losses and stresses of COVID-19. The good news is that creativity—a core value that we all share in United Adoration—is one of the most effective ways to deal with stress and refresh our connection with God. And as we share what we’ve created, others have the opportunity to enter into the oasis generated by creative expression.
In a backhanded way, this trying pandemic season has actually had some hidden benefits for creativity:
- Some of us have found ourselves with more time on our hands as we “shelter in place” and we’ve decided to invest that extra time in creative expression. One of my friends decided to face COVID-19 by writing a song a day for sixteen days based on each of the verses in Psalm 91.
- The challenges of this pandemic have forced us all to be more creative as we’ve looked for workarounds. Just yesterday a holiday event at my home church had to be cancelled because of a local COVID-19 outbreak. But instead of being scrapped, which is what would have happened before the trials of 2020, the organizers are figuring out a way to hold this event online.
- The stresses of this season have pushed many of us to explore other forms of creativity than our usual go-to’s. Personally, I’ve done more baking, tangling, and collaging than usual. I wrote a lament—a literary form I’ve experimented with only once before—and I’m searching for an online drawing class for beginners. I even sat down to the piano for the first time in eons and bumbled through a few hymns.
How about you? What are some of the ways you’ve used your creativity to connect with God in this pandemic season? How has that impacted you? What new forms of creative expression have you explored in 2020?
Kathryn Kircher is an author and a United Adoration staff member. Her new stay-at-home retreat guide, Parables of the Eucalyptus, includes a number of creative activities for connecting with God. It’s available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats.