by Sarah Holstein
As I think about what I am thankful for this season, a small group of middle school and high school girls comes to mind. Over the summer, I discovered that active in the BUMC youth group were several girls interested in writing fiction. I was excited by their passion, and wanted to encourage it as much as possible, so we started a writing club. It meets on Wednesday nights during the school year.
At first, we spent our time doing writing exercises together, and reading and commenting on short stories written by the members of the group. As October came to a close though, the girls told me of an exciting thing happening in November. I learned that November is National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo). NaNoWriMo is a program for writers across the country, with a goal of writing 50,000 words during the month of November, and the girls were excited to give it a try.
As we’ve worked together to write novels, I’ve been so impressed with their commitment to creativity. They have piles of homework, participate in organized sports, make time for their friends, are actively involved in youth group, and somehow fit in the time to write creatively. Their hard work has inspired me to think about why creativity is so important to them, and to me.
I do not think it is a coincidence that a major mention of creativity in the Bible comes in Exodus, when the Israelites are working to build the tabernacle, or dwelling place for the Lord. Exodus 35 describes the community coming together with leathers, yearns, and precious metals so that God might have a fit dwelling place, even while his people are in exile. The Israelites valued the skills of those who were creative, and could make a place for connection with God. I think there is something about creativity that allows us to connect with our creator, and I’ve witnessed it in these students.
I think that fiction allows us to explore truths of the world, through the “lies” of a made up world. I’ve seen these girls exploring truths about: good and evil, relationships, reality, love, memory, friendships, choice, free will, and the importance of human connection. I’ve been blown away by the insights they share with me in their fiction, and by how clearly I can see the influence of their faith in their writing. Though they may not be writing books about theological topics, I’ve seen that, in coming together to write fiction, they have made a space for connection with the Lord.