I am not creative.
I do not create
something from nothing.
That was done once,
since the beginning
Today, I give thanks for the gift of creativity. The desire to look at a thing and all that surrounds it and try out the combinations. What goes here? What fits there. How would these work if they were together? This isn’t working, how can I help it? How can I adjust it, reorganize it, so it clicks. So it operates. So it runs full steam ahead.
Life is a puzzle. I am the puzzler.
I do not create
something from nothing.
something from something.
And that creates me.
“That I am chosen to minister means to let other people discover that they are chosen, too.” ~ Henri Nouwen
For so many of us, chosen takes us back to that moment on the playground when the captains were choosing up sides. The best kids go first. The worst were saved for last. It was those same few kids that always had to wait for the their names to be called. That took patience and fortitude, but selection was guaranteed because everyone got to play.
Those were the old, shall we say good old, days when picking teams was simple. Self-selection, even by peers, seemed much better than being assigned to a roster. It was the way we kept things fair. Split up the “good” players and the “bad” so no team had all of either.
Somewhere along the way, as playground gave way to organized sports, adults started forming the rosters. Players were selected by coaches but picked according to rounds in the draft in an effort to keep things even and encourage strong competition during the season.
Somehow regular seasons gave way to all-stars, then travel teams, then select and now elite versions of those teams. You were picked for all stars, selected (obviously) for select, and recruited for elite. Each one was a step up the ladder of chosen. How different those words: selected and chosen.
To select an apple from the bin I pick it up, give it a squeeze, turn it over in my hand, and if there are no mushy spots and there is no evidence of worm holes, I put it in my basket. Selection is simple. But chosen, now that means I have given serious consideration to all of the options, evaluated every characteristic, and diligently sorted until I have found the one and only, the most special, the one certainly meant to be mine.
Perhaps it is this terminology that upends us in the youth sports arena today. “What! You didn’t choose MY child?!” She’s special, talented, the best kid out there. And of course she is. Each parent knows their kid is special, select, chosen, gifted. Getting on the elite team doesn’t confirm this, just as being cut from the team doesn’t deny it. But the positioning of our precious ones on stratified teams somehow misses the point. I mean, when did it become fashionable to be “elitist” anyway?
I much prefer the lesson taught to me by 7 and 8 year old soccer players. At the end of the season we voted on “superlatives.” I gave them a few ideas, but generally they were instructed to assign a “best _______” to each of their teammates. Some were silly, some were more serious, all of them were complimentary and were voted on completely by the team. No coaches. No parents. Just kids.
Each season, I would tally the votes, and while a few kids got creative (ie. the most likely to have her laces untied) most were a true reflection of the recipient: best smile, most friendly, happiest, best shooter, fastest, and so on. The funny thing was, I always had at least one kid who’s list would have multiple teammates voted best at the same thing. In a child’s eyes, it’s perfectly normal to have 3 players chosen as best shooter, best goalie, best smile or even MVP. Why stop at just one best?
One day, the quantified, ranked, ordinal world breaks in on all of us. The 7 and 8 year-old in us learns that there can be only one superlative. I guess that’s why our chosen-ness is so hard to embrace. Me? I’m not best at anything. Maybe chosen doesn’t mean best at or even better than, rather we’ve been selected, hand-picked, and identified as just the right one.
For what? Well, that’s what life after 7 is all about.
That’s as far as I got on my letter. I don’t remember the last time I wrote a letter to Santa. But this year I have pledged to do one thing each day that a kid would do. Of course a kid would write a letter to Santa, so here it sits on my desk, its red and green letters staring back at me.
Why is it so difficult to write to Santa?
- because I am not a kid? Maybe, but there are things on my Christmas list… why not write them?
- because what I want doesn’t come from a store? Nice try, but that’s rationalization. Can’t I still ask?
- because I don’t know where to begin. Now we’re getting somewhere.
The traditional, “I have been good this year” doesn’t cover all the bases. Can I lie to Santa? If he’s keeping a naughty and nice list, surely he knows all the not too nice things I did or said or didn’t do and lied about. So…
I have tried to be good this year but you know, it’s hard.
Stop stalling and get to the LIST!! What’s the harm in asking? But… isn’t asking selfish? Oh my goodness, what kid ever thinks about THAT? My adult-ness is disabling. I hope Santa understands.
So let’s ease into this… (after you bring the stuff for the kids and the dogs and my husband – because I want them to be happy – and after you bring stuff for people who really need stuff… if there is some extra room in your bag and it won’t weigh down your sleigh or be an undue burden for your tiny reindeer, could you…)
Oh my goodness how I avoid this conversation. Asking for what I really want, even if I am not sure I believe Santa can give it to me, is nearly impossible. Until I get started. Then it all tumbles out. I’m already at #8 before I realize that this list is a prayer. Item upon item are things I dearly, dearly long for. Specific things. And just for a moment it doesn’t seem selfish at all, it seems real, and I am not ashamed to ask.
#8. Bring me courage and nerve to speak up for these kids, even if it means risking my reputation.
Apparently, we need to ask for what we want so we can see what we really need.
I guess that about does it for this year, Santa. You know, you’re easier to talk to than the guy who could actually bring me these things. Why is that? Why, when I was a kid, was this so easy?
Santa, by any chance do you know Jesus? If you do, can you pass along my list?
Thank you and Merry Christmas!
Now. Send or don’t send? Oh, this adult-ness is gonna take some time to get over!