Conner handed me a strangely shaped, bulky package wrapped in heavy paper.
"Be careful. It's breakable."
I carefully unwrapped the one package to reveal three pieces: a cup, a saucer, and a stirrer.
"Thank you so much," I said. "I love it." I really meant those seven words, but hidden in them was a question that sometimes accompanies gifts.
How does this work?
A cup, a saucer, and a stirrer seem like simple, straightforward gifts. And they usually are. But this particular cup had a pointed base to it. When Conner turned away, I tried setting it on the counter, but it toppled into my hand. The bottom of my new coffee/tea mug was like a top that wouldn't spin. Instead, in my hands, it only fell down. I finally swallowed my pride and said, "Uh... dude... how does this work?"
Conner laughed and took the cup from me. He placed the orange cup in the yellow saucer, which had an indention in the center. The mug sat upright, and he two puzzle pieces became one. He placed the stirrer, which was shaped and painted like a human arm, alongside the mug.
Light bulb in my head was now in the "on" position.
Conner, a potter, then told me the story behind the "mug" and its creator. He had just returned from an artists' gathering in Sandwich, Illinois, where he'd met another potter named Cory McCrory. She had a collection of whimsical cups, saucers, and stirrers that could be mixed & matched. He described some of these pieces to me and how hard it was to choose. I looked at the orange mug with the word, "CREATIVITY," in black letters across the front.
"So, how did you decide on this one?" I asked.
He shrugged. "I don't know. It just seemed right."
Four years have passed since I placed the cup, saucer, and stirrer on a shelf in my home. For the most part, the ensemble has been art to view and not to use. I was always afraid of breaking it, of letting the cup slip out of the saucer and spill hot coffee everywhere. I would opt for a mug with less of a story, a mug that could be replaced.
Until a few weeks ago.
I shuffled my slippered feet across the den towards the kitchen and my 6 a.m. cup of coffee. The orange of Cory's cup caught my eye as I walked by. It just seemed right to take it off the shelf. It just seemed right to wipe the dust with my fingers. It just seemed right to carry the saucer on my left hand, as my right hand held the cup and stirrer in place. It just seemed right to pour coffee into it and to see the word, "CREATIVITY," face me as I drew the drink towards my lips.
I realized in the dawn of an August morning that I'd recently left a lot of my own creativity on a shelf, too. In the busyness of everyday life, in the rush of to-do lists and calendar obligations, it had become more and more difficult to carve out time to draw, to play music, to write, and simply to nurse the creative spirit. I liked to admire what artists like Cory and Conner created but neglected to admire what I might be able to make, too.
When Paul writes about the gifts of the Spirit in I Corinthians 12, he reminds us that "there are different spiritual gifts but one Spirit" (12:5, Common English Translation). Just as we all have spiritual gifts, we all have creative gifts. The source of all these spiritual and creative gifts is God, from whom "all good things" come. Why do we spend so much time ignoring the treasures on the shelves of our lives when God desires that we share them as the gifts they're meant to be?
Cory McCrory's creation calls me to create, too. In the body of Christ, let us use our gifts to stir one another to activate their gifts, too.
all good things to each of you,
* To contact or view the work of Cory McCrory:
* To contact or view the work of Conner Burns:
* Much of this and other recent blog posts was inspired by the July/August issue of Alive Now magazine. Read more from this fabulous publication at http://alivenow.upperroom.org