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Getting creative

June 23, 2009

I absolutely loved Seattle, but left feeling wistful and unsure about my future. I was so happy to find a graduate program that seemed to fit me at UW, I was overwhelmed by the excitement of food shopping at Pike’s Place Market, I wanted to explore the vintage clothing stores and the local artists’ shops, and I couldn’t help but wonder which neighborhood of the city would eventually be my home. In just one day, I caught a glimpse of what my life could be: staying in school to study things that fascinate me while creating a new home and lifestyle based on sustainability and simplicity.

I found myself glossing over the next two years in my mind, wishing myself ahead to this idyllic hypothetical life. A week later, I still notice myself wishing a little too often for comfort that this is the life waiting for me in the fall. None of these doubts would ever make me even consider not moving to Cambodia, but I’m realizing that the creativity inherent to starting a new life on my own terms is something that I will certainly miss when I move in with the Jesuits.

The need to create – whether art, writing, food, or even intentional community – has marked my family’s culture and especially grown in me over the last year. Raised by two artistic parents, an architect father and an interior designer mother, I grew up placing a high value on the creating process and the finished product. Only recently though have I recognized how much I internalized this drive: cooking beautiful meals from local fruits and vegetables became a stress release, planning reflections for my Arrupe group was a joy rather than another task, and cutting discarded wrapping paper into snowflakes to hang in our dining room seemed like a perfect way to pass a Saturday afternoon.

My attentiveness to this persistent need to create has been mutually informing with my study of feminist theology, which uses Creator as a primary image of God. Instead of focusing on God the Father, an image historically used to oppress women and others on the margins of society, worshiping our Creator allows us to recognize God in nature, in ourselves, in each other, and to celebrate creation as evidence of God’s goodness and dynamic presence. In recognizing God’s creative nature, I am inspired and emboldened to seek to create as well, whether it be something as tangible as a welcoming space or meal or abstract as a community of friends.

So where does that leave me? For now, at home with my family, taking advantage of lots of free time, crafts supplies in every corner of the house, and cooking with the vegetables out of the garden! In Cambodia in just a few months, looking for outlets for creative energy, whether it be writing, artwork, or something new. And in a few years? Seattle I hope!
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