Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Creative Doldrums Pt.3 (but actually 631)

I’ve seen “The Prince of Egypt” at least five hundred times. When Jacob was two it was his favorite movie. He’d ask constantly, “Moses? Moses?” I like this movie a lot, I think they got a lot of things right. It’s a spiritual marker for me, but I was always dissatisfied with the ending. For me the most defining moment of faith for the Israelites was not getting out of Egypt, it was what they did when they once they got out.

A few years back before I worked for the ‘Way I bid on a rather large set contract and got it. We had just moved back to Nashville and were staying with Shannon’s parents. Not only did we not have a place to live, not only did I not have to place to build these twenty-six sets, I didn’t have the tools, materials, anything really. I was talking to my dad about it and he told me that he and his coworkers had a phrase they would use whenever they landed a huge project they didn’t think they would get. “The dog has caught the car…now what?”

In a magnificent cataclysm of salty spray the Red Sea crashes closed on the Egyptians. Boom. The end. No more Egyptians. The Israelites are free. Free! There’s a big party—lots of singing, probably a big barbecue. And then the next day or week (if it was a really good barbecue) Moses wakes up and rolls out of his sleeping bag, looks East and sees a big fat bunch of nothing.

I resonate with the Israelites in the desert. Every day these people wake up, step out of their tents, shake the sand out of their sandals and go collect Manna. As they’re picking up the daily portion (and no more because it rots! Learned that one the hard way, they did) they look up to see if the Pillar of Cloud is moving. To see if they’re packing up the kids and tents and loading the donkey and hitting the road. It’s not terribly exciting, but neither is getting up and making a smoothie and driving 45 minutes to 1 Lifeway Plaza for a day of Pipe & Drape inventory. They spend the day walking in sand. They pull over for lunch and eat manna sandwiches sitting in the sand. When the day’s over, they unload the donkey, pitch the tent, grill some quail, maybe take in an evening campfire song, and then go to sleep in the sand. On the good days they don’t grumble about this monotonous existence. According to Moses, there weren’t many good days.

When there’s ridiculous plagues and a sea that splits in half, faith isn’t hard to come by. God seems pretty big and powerful and when you get down to it--inspiring. No, you don’t have to look far for inspiration in those moments. It’s when you’ve lost track of how many days in a row you’ve eaten quail-on-manna (or had a salad for lunch), when the next dune looks like the last (writing 11 years of camp drama), when there’s sand in FREAKING EVERYTHING that faith takes work. Only the right kind of inspiration could sustain you through those times and give you the spark to keep going. Sugar rushes and caffeine highs don’t get you through the desert.

Hang on. (He goes back and reads what he’s written).

…At some point I turned a corner and started talking about faith instead of creativity…

Wow, there’s just all kinds of stuff popping around in my head now…

We’ll have to pick it up here later, kids.


I've got 7 or 8 different strands that spun out of this. I'm just trying to make sense of them. Once I do, you'll have it.

1 comment:

Todd said...


Chase the rabbits. Then share what you catch.