Monday, February 3, 2014

Where Does the Poetry Come From?

What does it mean to be made in the image of God?

Consider the word “image.” It suggests a picture, an illustration or drawing, a photograph, an idea. But it doesn’t suggest the reality of a thing – only the representation of the reality.

Today, in the hypermedia, 24-hours news cycle world we live in, we hear “image” and we think “reputation.” But is our reputation the same the reality of our self? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

“Image” has a physical connotation. But, in the sense described in Genesis 2, where “God made man in his image, male and female he made them,” the idea of image is more profound, and more complex, than mere physical appearance or similarity.

One aspect of the complexity of the image we bear is the creative impulse. Made in God’s image, we image-bearers are creators as well.

In A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Made to Live, author Emily Freeman explores this creative impulse. She notes the apostle Paul’s explanation in the letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2, that we are a masterpiece, or workmanship, made to do good things. And she notes that the Greek word translated as “masterpiece” is poeima, the same word that gives “poem.”

“What happens when God writes poetry?” she asks.

“We do,” she answers. “We happen.”

And she goes on. “We are walking poetry, the kind that moves, the kind who has hands and feet, the kind with mind and will and emotion. We are what happens when God expresses himself.”

This is the same idea behind my book, Poetry at Work. I wasn’t as direct as Freeman is; she’s speaking largely to Christians and I am speaking to a broader audience. The idea of my book is that poetry is inherent in the work we do. What I don’t say in the book is that the work we do is done in the creative image of God, whether we believe in God’s existence or not.

A colleague at work, going through kind of a bad patch, read Poetry at Work. “I had no idea,” he told me, “how much this would help me make sense of it all. Something much bigger than work is at play here.”

I make the implication at several points in the book, but it is my heart’s desire for readers of Poetry at Work to ask the question, if poetry is inherent in the work we do, then where does it come from?

Over at The High Calling today, Laura Boggess is beginning the February book discussion on A Million Little Ways. Her post introducing the book will be live at 2 p.m. Central time.

Image by Tony Melena via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


Maureen said...

Lovely intro to the book, Glynn.

Maureen said...

Lovely intro to the book, Glynn.

David C. Russell, Author said...

Glynn, Your thoughts are of interest to me for a couple reasons. I attend a church that recognizes the conventional church year starting with Advent, (month before Christmas) and ending at Thanksgiving. This past weekend emphasis was on Jesus being the Light Of The World, and alongside that was another thought of how one in authority was anointed with oil so as to recognize that one as authority. As you point out we are poems or poetry in our world, we are also lights in our world anointed with God's oil to keep us fueled in our mission in this world. Nice to read this on Monday, which for me begins my work week!

diana said...

This is a lovely intro to Emily's fine book, Glynn. And I love the parallels you've drawn to another fine book, your own. Thank you.

S. Etole said...

Looking forward to reading both of these books at some point.