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Compassion and Creativity


Written by Plant With Purpose on July 27, 2009 in General

by Aly Lewis

Does compassion require creativity?  Henri Nouwen would say yes.  I’ve been continuing to read Compassion by Henri Nouwen, Donald McNeil, and Douglas Morrison in hopes of being a little more inspired and slightly more equipped to lead a compassionate life.   Although I’ve been struck and challenged at many points in the book, my newest obsession is the idea that compassion requires creativity. Nouwen poses the question, “How can we creatively respond to Jesus’ call to be compassionate as your loving God is compassionate?” 

I expected to hear words like obedience, sacrifice, and servanthood (words I love to hate but secretly love because I’m actually a legalistic, rule-lover hidden beneath a sleek exterior of cynicism and tolerance), but I wasn’t expecting creativity. Creativity is a word I toss into my self-indulgent basket. Creativity is meant to impress and entertain, not serve.  Au contraire, says my good friend Henri.  Not only is creativity useful in responding to suffering in the world, but it is also necessary. 

A compassionate response is a creative response. 

Of course this isn’t a new idea—what, with the abundance of ministry groups designed to match passion and talent with community needs.  Churches have Creative Arts Ministries, surf outreach clubs, and even social networking ministries designed to bring the Good News to the blogosphere.  No excuses; everyone can serve! 

Compassion isn’t about following a list of rules and check boxes.  When we make creative use of our time, passions, and resources is when the most meaningful acts of service and lasting transformation can occur. 

Check back on Wednesday to find out how Plant With Purpose is creatively and compassionately responding to poverty around the world.  


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