Chickens at the State Fair

Every summer at the State Fair, you can bet I’ll visit the chickens. They compel me. Their antics make me laugh. And they amaze me with their variety.

From the Belgian Bearded d’Uccle Bantam to the Golden Laced Wyandotte, no two chickens are alike. I marvel at splotches of color, downy snow boots, unique shapes and sizes of wattles, earlobes, and combs. Plus feathers that range from the semblance of regal stained glass outlines to silky poof balls.

But mostly, I marvel at God, the Ultimate Creator and Artist.

Because chickens are only one fraction of our animal kingdom. I can’t even comprehend the wide array of birds, insects, reptiles, dogs, cows, monkeys, and sea creatures.

Consider the mind of One who fashions both the peacock and the rhinoceros, the caterpillar and the whale.

The same One who created stars and galaxies made tiny grains of sand that fill beaches worldwide.

Not to mention all the varieties of flowers, trees, cactus, and rocks. And drastic differences of terrain, from desert to mountain to meadows.

 

Consider the various faces of water.

 

Imagine so many unique individuals, no two exactly alike. Millions over thousands of years. And God isn’t done yet. New people are born every day, first shaped in the womb by His own design.

When I taught middle school and high school art, I had to do two things:

1. Convince the creative students that art class wasn’t just a free-for-all for their paint palettes. Class wasn’t an easy A. We had order, standards, and criteria.

2. Convince the self-proclaimed non-creative students that they were creative and that they could give their imaginations free reign.

Which one was harder? The second one, by far. I had to try to pull from kids something they insisted did not exist.

Yet God created man in His own image. Therefore, we, too, are creators.

The main difference is that God created the world out of nothing, with just one word. We create out of “stuff”: a mix of memories and materials. And it’s a process.

Creativity is nothing more than re-combining old, familiar things in new ways. 

Animals create too. Beavers build dams, birds make nests, spiders spin webs. They do it by instinct, placed in them by the Creator Himself.

But only people create thoughtfully, for the unique purpose of self-expression or communication. To be known, seen, or heard. To be understood. They create from their deepest needs, fears, and joys.

And not just visual art. Everything we make carries echoes of the Creator. Our music mimics the rhythms of nature: the songs of birds, the rush of wind, the chirp of crickets, the roars of tides or thunder.

In our efforts to be organized, methodical, or efficient, we reflect the orderly universe.  A world that is subject to scientific laws of gravity, conservation, centrifugal force, relativity, thermodynamics, and more.

When we bring order and beauty together, it’s but a microcosm of the every day miracles of life found in the human body, animals, or nature, holding everything together.

We see elegance in nature, so we try to capture that same beauty and pattern in our daily lives and in our art.

We try to imitate the best. We also mirror the confusion and discrepancies due to living in a fallen, sinful world. Our efforts attempt to answer life’s hardest and deeply-rooted questions.

It’s interesting to me that the mythical pagan creation stories consist of random, evil gods somehow “burping” up the world into a watery chaos.

But the God of the Bible produced a lovely, orderly world according to His wisdom and plan. Nothing random about it.

He not only creates, but daily re-creates. It’s called Redemption. Beauty out of ashes.

God merely spoke the word and brought our world into existence. But out of His entire creation, only man bears God’s image. So we create, too. The theological term is Imago Dei. Image of God.

Though our creative process might seem chaotic, it’s a way of bringing our particular view of the world into a canvas, sculpture, building, poem, song, play, or novel. Out of the chaos of our lives, out of the sin and craziness of this world, we seek meaning, beauty, and order. Because we’re made in His image. Imago dei.

Abraham Kuyper, former prime minister of the Netherlands in the late 1800s, authored the book Common Grace (1905), about God’s gifts to a fallen world. I love his quote that perfectly sums up our creative drive:

*******************
“As image bearer of God,
man possesses the possibility
both to create something beautiful
and to delight in it . . .
The world of sounds, the world of tints,
and the world of poetic ideas,
can have no source other than God;
and it is our privilege
as bearers of His image,
to have a perception of this beautiful world,
artistically to reproduce it, and humanly to enjoy it.”
Abraham Kuyper
********************

This refers to music, art, and literature, but we all have different areas of creativity. We tend to be innovative in the realms we know well. More about that next time.

What parts of nature and the created world inspire you?

I’d love to hear from you!

Ever musing,

Laura

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16 thoughts on “Chickens at the State Fair

  1. It’s funny. I can stay up all night creating something, and when it’s done in the morning, I have more energy than if I’d gotten 8 hours of sleep! (And, no, that doesn’t happen when I stay up all night cleaning. *wink*)

    What inspires me? Well, first of all (and strangely enough) seeing a Starbucks sign next to a FedEx Kinkos. (Yeah, weird, I know!) But in one, I do some of my best writing, and in the other, I’ve printed it off in hardcopy–so it makes sense, right?

    More sensibly, what inspires me is the beach. The way the water laps at the sand and the birds fly overhead. When my husband and I went to the Bahamas for our 15th anniversary, my laptop went with me–much to my husband’s chagrin. Because creating not only inspires me, it relaxes me.

    Thanks for all the pictures. They’ve made my fingers itch for my keyboard!

  2. This is a beautiful post, Laura. I enjoyed the nature pictures as being outdoors and seeing God’s creative artistry up close and personal is one of my favorite things to do (winter or summer!).

  3. Just in the last couple of years, my husband and I go Lake Michigan beaches to find rocks. We just like to find different kinds. I am amazed at the variety of colors and shapes and sizes. It reminds me of this post about our Creator! How He designed nature and when we take time to notice, we can learn more about Him, and how He cared about the different details in the rocks. He sure must care about the details in my life!

    1. That certainly is a good reminder about how God cares about the details, even the littlest ones. Rocks, leaves, insects, shells . . . it goes on and on.

  4. This is a fantastic post! It reminds of a philosophical observation from a Christian philosopher/theologian whose textbook I use in the Christian Philosophy of Education course I teach. In it, Dr. George Knight observes that when it comes to a Christian approach to metaphysics (questions surrounding reality) there are intelligible, purposeful, friendly, personal and infinite aspects to our reality. For the Christian we have creative aspects as you have so poignantly pointed out above. The world is purposeful in that most people believe they have a purpose or a calling for something in this life. The world is friendly in that it is the only planet in our little solar system that can sustain human life. It is infinite in that we will always continue to dream of what can be. All of these postulates lead us to the observation that in our search for meaning we recognize that there is an ultimate intelligence, a benevolent being, an original personality, and an infinite creator. The revelation of this ultimate Being was shared in the form of Jesus Christ who is not only our Creator, but He is our redeemer. This is the ultimate manifestation of eternal love!

    1. So well put, Brad. Thanks for offering something so meaty to chew on. The most incomprehensible part is that an infinite Creator would even bother with such finite beings who have marred His image!

  5. I believe art/creation is a perfect blend of science/rule following and the untested/unexplored/experimental. We imagine a possibility in our minds without knowing the science behind it, then come up with an explanation. One of the most fascinating parts of nature is, human nature. It is by far the most complex and by looking into the eyes of another, we can more fully give context to ourselves.

    1. If we rely too much on the science and tested, we might not get very far with the possibilities. Yet knowledge of the science opens up other possibilities, so they definitely go hand in hand.

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