Example #27 Faith and Poetry

What if a poem about ducks connected with God’s creativity?

Alison wanted to change the way she did her 'show and tell' on creativity. She was exploring poetry in English so she decided to connect the two in such a way as to help students appreciate creativity as a gift from God and part of being made in the image of God.

"We had our usual 'show-and-tell' session, but for this particular day I’d asked the children to bring along something they had created, such as art and craft work or pieces of writing. I brought in something I had made. We talked about the different things we had made and created a display. I commended all the children for their creativity.

"At the time we were doing a theme on poetry in English (literacy) and I wanted them to see poetry as a way of expressing creativity. I read the poem “Ducks' Ditty” from The Wind in the Willows, and asked the children to close their eyes and imagine the scene. When they opened their eyes, I asked them to return to their desks to draw and colour what they could see in their imaginations. When they came back together as a group, they shared their pictures and talked about them. No two were the same.

"We looked at what made Duck's Ditty such a good poem and how Kenneth Grahame had done a good job of writing it because it lets us see pictures in our heads of what’s going on in the duck pond. My school is a Christian school, so I explained that the Bible says God is brilliant at creating things, which we can see all around us. God’s creativity has given us a beautiful world. I referred to their creativity and the display and explained that people were made a little like God and he is very creative. Our creativity can enhance our world and make it more fun for ourselves and others."

What’s going on here?

Alison saw that connecting 'show and tell' and English provided an appropriate context for looking at creativity from a Christian perspective and demonstrating that issues of faith were relevant outside of religious education. She saw her students holistically, connecting faith, creativity and delight.

She engaged students in making connections, harnessing their own creativity and experiencing moments of delight and personal investment (link show and tell and English; bringing in their creative pieces to show).

She reshaped her practice by using objects and display choices as well as a particular poem and closed eyes to shape the atmosphere she created, by her choice of questions, and by modelling creativity herself.

How do I do this myself?

What does this have to do with faith, hope and love?

God, out of love, has blessed people with creativity. People are made in his image, called to carry out God's work on earth, though our creativity is a pale reflection of his. God’s creativity is all around us, but we need to be conscious of it and take time to revel in it, whilst acknowledging its source. Faith in a God-given creativity means that human beings need to use that creativity responsibly to reflect its source. People can use their creativity to bring hope to those around them, creating beauty out of desolation and glory out of the ordinary.

What difference does it make?

Alison says: "I wanted students to enjoy the poet’s God-given creativity in an atmosphere of fun and appreciation created by the 'show and tell'. I wanted to move them toward delighting in poems and I wanted to shift from seeing creativity as just personal achievement to seeing its source in God.

Where could we go from here?

Explore other examples of creativity in poems, these can be poems for fun such as Jaberwocky (Lewis Carroll); The Tale of Custard the Dragon (Ogden Nash) or serious poems. All reflect different aspects of creativity. The responsibility that goes along with creativity can be followed up in many subject areas, from design and food technology to art and music. For schools that do not have a Christian foundation, putting up the question 'I wonder where creativity comes from?' could be an alternative. See where the discussion goes.

Digging deeper

Appreciation is expressing our thanks, respect and praise. For Christians, thankfulness and appreciation is a response to life as a gift from God and for all that God gives and what others do. Thanks can find expression in connection with appreciation of poetry and art, music and science. Expressing appreciation and thanks raises our awareness of the ways in which we benefit from the creative work of others.

In the Bible, appreciation and thankfulness is expressed towards God (Psalm 92:1) and others (1 Timothy 2:1). Appreciation is part of building each other up and encouraging each other (Hebrews 3:13).

There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread. Mother Teresa

Martin Luther saw gratitude as the basic attitude; it is like a mould that shapes life. When someone does something for you there is a sense of thanks that are due, hence Luther’s saying that 'Unthankfulness is theft'.

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. Meister Eckhart

The Bible talks of the entire world as God's (Psalm 24:1). Creation can reveal him and all of life can be lived to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). The poet and the engineer can both reflect God in what they do. Scholars differ in how they understand what 'being made in the image of God' means; it could be our creativity, reasoning, our role in bringing order in the world, our ability to make moral decisions and our social relationships. It is a complex idea; the image of God cannot be reduced to one thing. The image of God is marred in humanity; we do not reflect God well – like a cracked mirror. Only Jesus perfectly reflected God.

Explore similar examples:

What if a literacy lesson were about words as gifts?
What if poetry were delighting in sounds?
What if learning about flowers led to wonder?

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1It is wonderful to be grateful and to sing your praises, Lord Most High! 2It is wonderful each morning to tell about your love and at night to announce how faithful you are. 3I enjoy praising your name to the music of harps, 4because everything you do makes me happy, and I sing joyful songs. 5You do great things, Lord . Your thoughts are too deep 6for an ignorant fool to know or understand. 7Though the wicked sprout and spread like grass, they will be pulled up by their roots. 8But you will rule over all of us for ever, 9and your hateful enemies will be scattered and then destroyed. 10You have given me the strength of a wild ox, and you have chosen me to be your very own. 11My eyes have seen, and my ears have heard the doom and destruction of my terrible enemies. 12Good people will prosper like palm trees, and they will grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. 13They will take root in your house, Lord God, and they will do well. 14They will be like trees that stay healthy and fruitful, even when they are old. 15And they will say about you, The Lord always does right! God is our mighty rock. The Lord is king
1First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. 2Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honour God. 3This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Saviour. 4God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is, 5There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us. 6God showed us this at the right time. 7This is why God chose me to be a preacher and an apostle of the good news. I am telling the truth. I am not lying. God sent me to teach the Gentiles about faith and truth. 8I want everyone everywhere to lift innocent hands towards heaven and pray, without being angry or arguing with each other. 9I would like women to wear modest and sensible clothes. They should not have fancy hair styles, or wear expensive clothes, or put on jewellery made of gold or pearls. 10Women who claim to love God should do helpful things for others, 11and they should learn by being quiet and paying attention. 12They should be silent and not be allowed to teach or to tell men what to do. 13After all, Adam was created before Eve, 14and the man Adam wasn't the one who was fooled. It was the woman Eve who was completely fooled and sinned. 15But women will be saved by having children, if they stay faithful, loving, holy, and modest. Church officials
1My friends, God has chosen you to be his holy people. So think about Jesus, the one we call our apostle and high priest! 2Jesus was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in serving all God's people. 3But Jesus deserves more honour than Moses, just as the builder of a house deserves more honour than the house. 4Of course, every house is built by someone, and God is really the one who built everything. 5Moses was a faithful servant and told God's people what would be said in the future. 6But Christ is the Son in charge of God's people. And we are those people, if we keep on being brave and don't lose hope. A rest for God's people 7It is just as the Holy Spirit says, If you hear God's voice today, 8don't be stubborn! Don't rebel like those people who were tested in the desert. 9For forty years your ancestors tested God and saw the things he did. Then God got tired of them and said, You people never show good sense, and you don't understand what I want you to do. 11God became angry and told the people, You will never enter my place of rest! 12My friends, watch out! Don't let evil thoughts or doubts make any of you turn from the living God. 13You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called today. If you don't, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn. 14We were sure about Christ when we first became his people. So let's hold tightly to our faith until the end. 15The Scriptures say, If you hear his voice today, don't be stubborn like those who rebelled. 16Who were those people that heard God's voice and rebelled? Weren't they the same ones that came out of Egypt with Moses? 17Who were the people that made God angry for forty years? Weren't they the ones that sinned and died in the desert? 18And who did God say would never enter his place of rest? Weren't they the ones that disobeyed him? 19We see that those people did not enter the place of rest because they did not have faith.
1The earth and everything on it belong to the Lord . The world and its people belong to him. 2The Lord placed it all on the oceans and rivers. 3Who may climb the Lord 's hill or stand in his holy temple? 4Only those who do right for the right reasons, and don't worship idols or tell lies under oath. 5The Lord God, who saves them, will bless and reward them, 6because they worship and serve the God of Jacob. 7Open the ancient gates, so that the glorious king may come in. 8Who is this glorious king? He is our Lord , a strong and mighty warrior. 9Open the ancient gates, so that the glorious king may come in. 10Who is this glorious king? He is our Lord , the All-Powerful! (By David.) A prayer for guidance and help
1Friends, I want to remind you that all our ancestors walked under the cloud and went through the sea. 2This was like being baptized and becoming followers of Moses. 3All of them also ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink, which flowed from the spiritual rock that followed them. That rock was Christ. 5But most of them did not please God. So they died, and their bodies were scattered all over the desert. 6What happened to them is a warning to keep us from wanting to do the same evil things. 7They worshipped idols, just as the Scriptures say, The people sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up to dance around. So don't worship idols. 8Some of those people did shameful things, and in a single day about twenty-three thousand of them died. Don't do shameful things as they did. 9And don't try to test Christ, as some of them did and were later bitten by poisonous snakes. 10Don't even grumble, as some of them did and were killed by the destroying angel. 11These things happened to them as a warning to us. All this was written in the Scriptures to teach us who live in these last days. 12Even if you think you can stand up to temptation, be careful not to fall. 13You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to escape from your temptations. 14My friends, you must keep away from idols. 15I am speaking to you as people who have enough sense to know what I am talking about. 16When we drink from the cup that we ask God to bless, isn't that sharing in the blood of Christ? When we eat the bread that we break, isn't that sharing in the body of Christ? 17By sharing in the same loaf of bread, we become one body, even though there are many of us. 18Aren't the people of Israel sharing in the worship when they gather around the altar and eat the sacrifices offered there? 19Am I saying that either the idols or the food sacrificed to them is anything at all? 20No, I am not! That food is really sacrificed to demons and not to God. I don't want you to have anything to do with demons. 21You cannot drink from the cup of demons and still drink from the Lord's cup. You cannot eat at the table of demons and still eat at the Lord's table. 22We would make the Lord jealous if we did that. And we are not stronger than the Lord. Always honour God 23Some of you say, We can do whatever we want to! But I tell you that not everything may be good or helpful. 24We should think about others and not about ourselves. 25However, when you buy meat in the market, go ahead and eat it. Keep your conscience clear by not asking where the meat came from. 26The Scriptures say, The earth and everything in it belong to the Lord. 27If an unbeliever invites you to dinner, and you want to go, then go. Eat whatever you are served. Don't cause a problem for someone's conscience by asking where the food came from. 28But if you are told that it has been sacrificed to idols, don't cause a problem by eating it. I don't mean a problem for yourself, but for the one who told you. Why should my freedom be limited by someone else's conscience? 30If I give thanks for what I eat, why should anyone accuse me of doing wrong? 31When you eat or drink or do anything else, always do it to honour God. 32Don't cause problems for Jews or Greeks or anyone else who belongs to God's church. 33I always try to please others instead of myself, in the hope that many of them will be saved.