18 November 2008

Creatively Courageous

"Courage is not a lack of fear, but the ability to act while facing fear."
~ Anonymous

How do you exercise creativity in the face of great fear?

Last week I chose to attend a renewal event at my church that featured a presentation by Father Michael Joncas. If you are not Catholic, you may be interested to know that Fr. Joncas is an accomplished liturgist, composer and theologian who teaches at University of St Thomas. If you are Catholic, you will recognize Fr. Joncas prolific body of work in the songs that are sung at church on a regular basis…such beloved tunes as “On Eagles Wings” and the “Canticle of Mary” and “Take and Eat."

Father Joncas’ extensive body of work represents a lifetime of creativity and working with his God-given talents and gifts to bring uplifting joy to so many. But his story is one of courage in the face of extreme health risks and an ability to transcend the fear that would certainly cripple the spirit of the best of us.

During Holy Week of 2003, Father Joncas was struck with a severe case of a rare syndrome called Guillain-Barre. This debilitating illness affects the nervous system which leads from weakness to paralysis. He had been stricken quite suddenly and was paralyzed everywhere except for one eyelid that he was able to blink. He couldn’t walk, talk, breath, eat or move. All he had were his thoughts. This condition renders the body useless, but leaves the mind whole, which must certainly be the depths of fear. Father Joncas was placed on a ventilator and his friends and family were given a grim prognosis that while he might recover he would likely never be without a wheelchair. But when I saw Father Joncas last week, he not only was walking and talking, but singing and playing the piano.

It took over a year, but he was able to regain the life he once had, albeit changed in body, mind and spirit. And his creativity has flourished in the face of such uncertainty.

Father Joncas shared a special treat with us that night…a newly published, not-yet-released song that we were invited to sing in celebration with him that night. Beautiful words and music.

I cannot imagine the horror of finding yourself in such a dire, life-threatening predicament. I cannot imagine the pain that he must have suffered. I cannot imagine the doubting of a mind trapped inside a body that refused to work. But I can understand the courage that it takes to persevere in the face of great uncertainty to fulfill your creative dreams. I may never have to overcome the obstacles that Father Joncas did in order to exercise my creativity, but his story gives me reason to believe that God wants us to share our talents with others...to uplift and inspire all those we touch.

And it reminds me that I have an obligation to share my creativity with everyone I meet, that I should not wait another day to do that which makes my heart sing.

I am so glad that Father Joncas was able to make it through the worst to share his experiences with us all and to continue to let his creative light shine. His story is an inspiration to me that even when all around you seems dark, that your creativity can take wing and rise above the fear. Or in the case of Father Joncas, make that eagle’s wings…

"Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself." ~Alan Alda

{Remember that the Check it Out:: is a regular feature. I won't tell you why I am inpsired, but invite you to check it out, and find your own inspiration. And please comment both to me and to the author of the posted site on what treasures you have found there!}

Check it out:: http://picturespoetryprose.blogspot.com/

Enjoy the day!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad we stumbled into each other in this little electronic world. Your postings are so inspiring; I look forward to reading more.

Thank you for "finding" me! ~Angie


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