In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
When I was young, I used to spend my time on the bus writing stories. My masterwork, written in 5th grade, was entitled “Perfect Pairs of Paranormal Pranks,” and it was about a group of cats who liked to wreak havoc and eat pizza and chase ice cream trucks, not necessarily in that order.
I won’t say it was easy to write (it was 25 pages front AND back, thank you very much), but I do remember how easily the ideas flowed, how effortless it seemed to be creative–in the beginning. As a kid, life seemed like an endless opportunity to play “Let’s pretend;” ANYTHING was possible. Cats could chase pizza trucks, and hold firm preferences about pepperoni. This was not a problem.
Creation has gotten harder as I’ve gotten older. I developed an inner editor somewhere along the way, a persistent, well-trained voice that can speak its critiques in MLA format. She is super-handy when it comes to getting a paper written. She’s terrible for when I want to create something.
In Patrick Kavanagh’s poem Advent, he writes about a wish to return the knowledge he couldn’t use, and return to a innocence that made everything new when he looked at it as a child.
I don’t know if I want to go all the way back to the beginning. I don’t think I want to throw away the “clay-minted wages of pleasure, knowledge, and the common hour” quite yet. But in the times when the inner editor’s voice is particularly bleak, or the well of imagination particularly dry, I find profound hope in the promise that when Christ comes, Christ will bring a new creation.
Will it be like it was in the beginning? Will the Spirit move over the troubled waters of self-criticism and the deep blackness of exhausted imagination? Will she breathe new creation into being with nothing more than a sigh, like a flower unfurling in the winter, like light softly bursting into being?
Patrick Kavanagh, 1942
We have tested and tasted too much, lover –
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
But here in the Advent-darkened room
Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea
Of penance will charm back the luxury
Of a child’s soul, we’ll return to Doom
The knowledge we stole but could not use.
And the newness that was in every stale thing
When we looked at it as children: the spirit-shocking
Wonder in a black slanting Ulster hill
Or the prophetic astonishment in the tedious talking
Of an old fool will awake for us and bring
You and me to the yard gate to watch the whins
And the bog-holes, cart-tracks, old stables where Time begins.
O after Christmas we’ll have no need to go searching
For the difference that sets an old phrase burning –
We’ll hear it in the whispered argument of a churning
Or in the streets where the village boys are lurching.
And we’ll hear it among decent men too
Who barrow dung in gardens under trees,
Wherever life pours ordinary plenty.
Won’t we be rich, my love and I, and please
God we shall not ask for reason’s payment,
The why of heart-breaking strangeness in dreeping hedges
Nor analyse God’s breath in common statement.
We have thrown into the dust-bin the clay-minted wages
Of pleasure, knowledge and the conscious hour –
And Christ comes with a January flower.