I’ve been enjoying putting Psalm 8 journalling kits together this week. The workshop on Saturday is sold out and I’m praying it will be a blessing and in inspiration to all the good folks at Christ Church, not least the fabulous Curate who’s organised the event.
The thing I’ve been noticing as I’ve been praying and making is the total chaos that I manage to create when putting kits together. I start with a nice big expanse of desk and very soon it is littered with paper off-cuts, ink pads, stray boxes of washi tape and anything but neat little piles of all the different elements that go into a full kit of supplies like this one. I occurred to me again that creativity almost inevitably involves some chaos. All creative projects seem to need to pass through the vortex of disorganisation before coming good – that period of uncertainty where you doubt that it will ever come together – the awful sense that it ‘not working out well in the end’ is a real possibility. Fortunately I’ve been dabbling in creative endeavour for long enough now to know that you just have to persevere and work your way out the other side. I honestly believe that for me at least, no chaos means no creativity. I need the jumble of things and ideas from which to create. If my desk was never allowed to get messy I’d never get to the place of uncertainty from which the magic emerges.
And it strikes me that there’s a really decent sermon in there! Thinking about the Easter story we’ve just celebrated, it couldn’t have been more chaotic. The whole project got completely derailed. Some minor opposition might have been expected but The Crucifixion? With Psalm 8 fresh in my mind, I’m also thinking about the state of our world: the threats posed by climate change, the bombings, attacks, wars and persecution, even in sacred places at times when surely one could only offer respect for our fellow humans. We don’t have to look very far to find chaos all around us.
If we go back to the very beginning of Genesis there is chaos in the ‘formless’ earth. There is chaos with the flood, chaos at Babel, and so it continues right through to the ultimate chaos of Christ’s agony in death. Yet as we read through that long human story in Scripture, we see how people find God in the chaos, in spite of it and sometimes because of it. I know in my own life that it’s in the times of what seems like meaningless chaos, I reach out to him more fervently, and find him more profoundly.
As I muse on this theme, I start spreading water on a page in my demo journal and adding paint. The lines merge and separate. The colours mingle. It’s a simple wet-on-wet technique but it speaks to me: the chaos has it’s own meaning. As water and paint spread out of control across the page a picture emerges. It reminds me of another Psalm, where God promises to be our Good shepherd, to lead us into calm and quiet places and make us lie down in peace when we need to.
It’s hard to make sense of the levels of chaos in our world. I don’t intend to simply acquiesce. But as I pray I am challenged again to embrace the chaos in my own life and let it point me towards the still waters that restore the soul.
Linited edition Psalm 8 kits are available on Etsy now