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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Creation, Innovation and Renovation

This inspiration is rooted in a rather serendipitous time I recently had with some athletes, coaches and a professional music composer.  While it is not unusual for me to hang out with athletes and coaches, there typically is not a music composer thrown into the mix!  But he added a tremendous leavening effect to the dialogue and spurred me to thinking about things about which I normally would not.        

The intent of the meeting was straightforward.  If people who are not in the same fields or who are not alike spend time together, new and different conversations are likely to happen and, possibly, new ideas arise.  I am sure we would have to do it more than one time, but that one time was enough to suggest the possibilities.  And they were exciting.  And even more, it was a great deal of fun.           

I was fascinated to listen to the music composer describe his work.  I would not know the first step about composing a piece of music.  Whatever musical ability I have is latent---totally unexplored.  I have been assured I am not a good singer.  Unfortunately for me, music and art were not popular subjects in grade school.  I trust the current younger group is more mature than I was.  So it was a great learning experience to hear a professional composer talk about being creative.           

He writes notes on a page that the musicians can “read” and make music.  The only thing I can compare it to is the writing I do.  I begin with a blank page and have a zillion words from which I can choose.  Choosing words, developing sentences, paragraphs and, then, making a whole piece must be like writing music.  Even though I know what I said and meant, sometimes another person reading what I wrote understands it differently.  Once the words are on paper, I have no control over what the reader takes away from those words.  So it is with the composer: once the musicians begin to play, his music might sound different than he intended.           

I have been creative, but not in that musical sense.  The fun part was to begin to relate creativity to innovation.  I have been involved in the world of innovation.  A couple basic ways to see innovation is to create a new thing or to figure out a new way to do an old thing.  When I put it this way, it is easy for me to see a significant relationship between being creative and innovative.             

When we add the third element, namely, renovation, again it is easy for me to see how related it is to the other two.  Renovation is little more than an application of the innovative process dealing with an old thing.  For example, we talk about renovating an old house.  In the end the structure of the house may be unchanged.  From the outside it looks just like it always did.  But inside, the transformation might seem unbelievable.  In many ways renovation takes creativity and innovatively applies it to the old thing.           

While this may be interesting, does it have anything to do with spirituality and the spiritual journey many of us are walking?  The answer is a resounding “Yes” for me.  Let me elaborate.  As I thought about this set of ideas, it occurred to me the three key words in the title of this piece could be used to summarize much of my Christian understanding of my spiritual journey.  And I think, most of it is applicable to other major religious traditions, like Judaism, Buddhism, etc.           

A key piece of my understanding of God is that God is creative.  Even though I opt for some form of evolution, I still understand God as Spirit being creatively involved in the process of the world coming to be and continuing to be.  All of us creatures are dependent on that life-giving Spirit continuing to support our lives.  Evolution itself is a form of innovation.  Most of us would claim some relationship to the ape world.  Apparently I share a very high percentage of my DNA with mice!  I might claim uniqueness, but there is a great deal of relatedness, too.  And as a human being, my own life has been innovative.  I keep doing new things and old things new ways.           

And a final big piece of my spiritual journey is the honest recognition that I have often screwed up and done things badly.  The old theological language for this is sin.  Even if I want to get rid of that word, I cannot deny the reality of sin---things gone badly.  That is where renovation comes into the picture!  The same creative Spirit of God is also the renovative Spirit of God.  Again classical Christian language might call this reconciliation or use a variety of other words, the effect is the same as the renovated house.           

When I have messed up, I still look like the same guy who was the good guy before messing up.  The renovative process does not change my looks any more than the renovated house looked different.  But that process transformed me and makes me whole.  If I am with coaches, we might talk about changing the way we play the game.  Perhaps the music composer can use language of tempo change and other avenues to make new music from an old song.

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