Years ago, when I was in seminary, one of my professors Rev. Dr. Gail Ricciuti, challenged me to think about God as an artist. I fell in love with that idea, partly because it reminded me of one of my favorite children’s books by Martha Hickman called And God Created Squash. She tells the Creation story with a God who has an awesome sense of adventure, play and creativity talking to himself in the Garden of Eden about all that he wants to create. He envisions things and creates them by calling them into being. One inspiration leads to another. For example, God falls in love with the word squash. "I like that name . . . I think I'll use it again. Acorn squash. Butternut squash. Even zucchini squash. I might have a game and call it squash. Or put my hand on something and press down hard and call that squash." This creative process continues until God ends by fashioning some company for himself--something, "well, more like me."
This whole idea of God as an artist was the inspiration for one of my first sermons, called Divine by Design. Here I argued we are Divine by Design because we were designed by the Divine. If we had a label that we wore, some sort of trademark, it would say Divine Design.
So, what if we thought about each of us as being created by God the artist? God, the one who can mold each of us into a vessel, like the potter does clay. A God who has our future in her hands. See when we think about God as designer, we can begin to reflect on the creative side of God. I mean here is a God who can take a formless void and turn it into such a masterpiece that when she looked at it, all she could say was “very good,” but then had to go back the next day and kick it up a notch. If we think about God’s designer skills, we recognize that God was a multi-medium artist – God knew how to work with lights, elements, soil, vegetation, feathers, skin, hair, skeletal structures and so much more. God had this master design plan for her world and then brought it into life, working diligently on each phase of the design until it was how she wanted it to be.
So, can you imagine God being creative like this? I can see God kind of looking at this formless void and creating in her mind this amazing design. A design that was complex and multidimensional. A design that allowed God’s sense of creativity to come shining through. Imagine it was the third day, and God was creating vegetables and other forms of vegetation. I can hear God having a conversation with herself that kind of went like this “how about plants?” and there appeared on the earth plants. So now God is looking at these plants and wondering, “what shall I call them?” maybe grits and corn and rice and black-eyed peas. Oh wait, how about sweet potatoes or greens. Oh, I like that word – greens – I could make all kinds of greens – mustard greens, turnip greens, collard greens." I have this sense that most of the days were like that. God just having fun designing this world that she was creating.
Ernesto Cardenal, in his book Abide in Love, wrote about something similar. He said, "Everything in nature has a trademark, God's trademark: the stripes on a shell and the stripes on a zebra; the grain of the wood and the veins of the dry leaf; the markings on the dragonfly's wings and the pattern of stars on a photographic plate; the panther's coat and the epidermal cells of the lily petal; the structure of atoms and galaxies. All bear God's fingerprints. . . .
There is a style, a divine style in everything that exists, which shows that it was created by the same artist. Everything is multiplicity within unity. Everything is both like other things and unique. Every individual thing has its own manner of being; it is that thing and not anything else. At the same time, there are millions and millions of others like it, both minute creatures and immense stars. Everything has its own stripes, speckles, spots, dapples, veins, or grain--the caterpillar, the clay pot, the chameleon, the Klee painting and the Persian carpet, sea spray, stalactites, white agate veins in pebbles, the carpet of autumn leaves, wood, marble, sea shells, and the skeleton of the reptile. . . .”
This week, let’s think about how we were created by the same artist. We are all part of the same exhibit. We are multiplicity within unity. We are both similar and different. It is in this experience that we are able to experience and practice unity.