Earth Etude for Elul 8 – Creativity and Teshuvah
by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen
Creation. Whether you consider it to warrant a capital C or simply a lower case c, the word expresses how the Universe began. The act of creation holds within it creativity. Creativity was present from the start of the Universe.
When we look around, we can see that continually the Universe is created anew, with newness filling every moment of every day: new growth of plants, animals, and other organisms, new stars being born, precipitation falling anew, streams and rivers renewing and changing their course as the water tumbles down mountains and hills, and so much more.
We see creativity in the more-than-human world, but we are more familiar with it in the human world — new books, new symphonies, new works of art, new gardens, every generation and every human feels a drive to create something new. Jewish tradition teaches that we are partners with G!d in the on-going creation of the Universe. Yet, all of the created world constantly exhibits creativity, not only through intentional human thought, but also as the result of the laws of nature.
For us human beings, creativity can be a useful tool in our teshuvah, our return to G!d. If we find ourselves slipping into the blues or even depression, if we find painful thoughts and memories coming to the fore, our creative efforts can transform and heal the places of pain, grief, anxiety, or fear within us. New expressions of our ideas, thoughts, feelings, and memories become a form of teshuvah, of returning to a place of peace and wellness of spirit, of growing ourselves and our relationship with the sacred. As we journey through Elul, may our creativity take center stage and bring us, and the world, to a new and better place.
Rabbi Katy Allen is a board certified chaplain and serves as a Nature Chaplain and the Facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma’yan Tikvah – A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long. She is the President pro-tem of the Boston-based Jewish Climate Action Network. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion.