In one of the Judeo-Christian creation myths, God creates the world in seven days. After each phase of creation, God looks at what is created and pronounces that it is “good.” There are no mistake at all. This led to the popular affirmation, “God don’t make mistakes.” True, enough that no person is a mistake but the process of creating the world so smoothly does seem a little curious. I mean, creation of the whole world moves along flawlessly!
Those who are project planners can attest to the fact that no plan ever goes exactly as planned. The story of evolution includes many moments when something entirely unexpected or almost accidental becomes a positive thing that drastically alters the course of life.
The Judeo-Christian creation stories are only two of many creation myths in the world. In the Cherokee creation story, mountains are a mistake crafted by the wing of a giant buzzard who flies too low to the new earth and gouges the mud, thereby making mountains. At first, the new earth is raised up too high and crawfish gets sunburned. So, the earth has to be lowered. Then, the first people had children every seven days! Too many people were created so it was changed to be nine months. In the whole of the Cherokee myth, creation is a constant story of adjustment, trial, error and learning.
When I was a teenager, my best friend’s parents decided to build their dream home. After finding the right land, they began building. I remember helping to place nails in rafters and hold beams up. I also remember lots of moments when the adults would stand in a huddle looking at plans and then looking at a new problem. I marveled at the ways in which my friend’s parents worked together to create their home. It could stressful for sure at times and many pieces did not go exactly as planned, but all these years later, the house is still there. And my friend’s parents are too—still married and a team in life.
Creation is never easy nor flawless, but when done as a team where the risk is shared, the experience can change your life. Creating together can create new worlds. As Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, in the face of injustice we are called to be “creatively maladjusted.”
To be a creative people means to be a risk-taking people who will dare to try for things not yet done or imagined.
So what are you called to create in this life? And who are the people with whom you are called to create?
With faith and gratitude,
Join in the group spiritual practice.
Your Resume of Failures
This exercise invites you to explore the relationship between creation and failure.
Yup, failure. Nothing gets created without it. The well-known examples of this come from the scientific world; think penicillin, Velcro or Teflon. But some of the most interesting creative failures today are occurring in the world of business and entrepreneurial endeavors. Numerous business schools actively preach one simple message: Fail faster and fail better!
In fact, a Stanford Business School professor recently reported a new trend: young entrepreneurial job seekers are listing their failures on their resumes! Instead of boasting about their successes and awards, they proudly promote their marketing missteps and start-up disasters, and what they learned from them. By sharing what they learned and how they used that learning, they display their ability to look at their failures with creative eyes, not as dead ends and bungled attempts but as lessons and brave test runs.
So why not try it? Here’s your assignment:
Sit down with a piece of paper and spend a day or two listing all your life failures. Then take another day or two and consider them in a new light. Jot down a few bullet points under each “failure” explaining how those dead ends actually became a new road, how what seemed a moment of coming up empty really turned out to be a time of discovering something new, something you would have never looked for otherwise.
Then come to your chalice circle or to church ready to share what you learned about creation and blessed failures.