This week, I’ve been feeling emotional… however this feeling is not entirely irrational. It’s amazing how undervalued emotion really is.
September is our launch of the school year at Fuller Theological Seminary, and I am now the sidekick to valley girl genius Jenn Graffius, and undertaking responsibility for planning and running such events as ‘The Festival of Beginnings’, ‘New Student Convocation’, and a variety of other worship events hosted at Fuller. It is slightly bizarre to sit down to plan a service for an established seminary. Most of the people in attendance will be far more qualified theologically than I, and from disparate backgrounds and traditions. Yet, our team holds a deep hope for an expression of unity amongst us… the powerful unity that only Christ can bring.
On Friday we met our fresh-faced chapel interns… a small but diverse, talented group of masters students we will see flourish into greatness as we progress through the year. As I am (arguably) Pentecostal, and we have Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran and charismatic voices at the table, we stressed the importance of thinking through our strengths of traditions. In this way, we ensure we are not presuming upon the community’s negotiated space, but bringing our absolute best for this time and place. Our team is truly intergenerational, as our interns are in their twenties, I and Jenn are in our thirties, and we are supervised by liturgists and composers in their forties and sixties. It’s a privilege to be sitting at the table with these worship pastors.
However, all this thinking has given me brain strain, and this might leave me open to blonde jokes, but I’ve come to realize that thinking is just not my processing of choice. I’m not sure if that’s just personality, leadership style, Pentecostalism or because I’m a woman. It might be all of the above. But, the truth is that I generally feel through the music of each hymn, edging through each verse and playing it out in my mind until I know it is playing exactly how I want it to feel for people in the service. It’s kind of the same for the worship service planning – each moment of the ritual has to be felt before I can describe it in words. However, language and communication is entirely necessary at the moment and I’m learning. But as I was ‘brain refreshing’ on social media today, I saw this quote, and thought it was brilliant. It encapsulates the creativity process that I and our interns are going through as we approach the year… and shows the connectedness of thoughts and feelings in the creative process:
You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them. If it seems to you that I move in a world of certitudes, you, par contre, must benefit from the great privilege of youth, which is that you move in a world of mysteries. But both must be ruled by faith. – The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 4: 1944-1947
And it reminds me of Ephesians 3 … actually the theme scripture of Fuller Theological Seminary for this year. I really love the thought of creativity springing from emotional fullness ruled by faith. It seems to me that while great theology is often written out of deliberate, thoughtful logic, many of the great artists (and worshippers) draw from a fury of emotions that eek out into small tunes and long remembered songs, with feelings and intuitions weaving into a symphony of prayers and ritual. Maybe we do all need each other. 😉