Posted tagged ‘creative’

Creating Poets Without Beards…or Rhyme!

January 27, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                              January 27, 2018

                             

I was given the opportunity yesterday to teach seventh grade Language Arts class. One hundred adolescents more excited about a weekend of doing nothing as opposed to fifty-seven minutes of literary creating and discovery!

The assignment for each period was to create a poem, based on an ancient form of Chinese poetry called “Shi” poetry. I explained the creative process to them, showed them a few examples and set them off on the road of pondering, erasing bad lines of gibberish, and creative expression.

“Mr. Wolfe, what do you think about this? “I have a flying dog who flies in the air like a pigeon.”

“Needs a bit of work!”

“Why?”

“Well, I’m not exactly sure where you’re going with this, but if you have a flying dog do you really need to repeat two words later that he flies? And, isn’t it enough to say it’s a flying dog, as opposed to comparing him to a pigeon?” He ponders, returns to his seat, and I notice he immediately flips his pencil to use the eraser.

A masterpiece just destroyed by a substitute teacher who doesn’t understand about flying dogs.

“Mr. Wolfe, what do you think about this?” He hands me his creation, which I carefully read.

“The season of winter has begin

The light will be dim…”

“Shouldn’t that word be ‘begun’?

“Well, I wanted it to rhyme with dim.”

“(Thinking the words but not saying them: Listen, Longfellow!) Begin doesn’t rhyme with dim.”

“Yes, it does…begin…dim…” He is trying to convince me that I’m in error.

“No, it doesn’t! And, anyway, you don’t need to rhyme!”

“I know, but I thought it sounded good!”

(Thinking the words again: “Well, it doesn’t!”)

There were other inspired students yesterday who impressed me with the depth of their thoughts and flow of meaning. Poems about the afterlife, death, and personal value were mixed in with other poems about chicken wings, watermelon, and having a rat for a pet.

The drudgery I sensed about the assignment was soon replaced with an excitement about personal expression. Even if the poem was about macaroni and cheese there was still a sense of pride about what had been transmitted from the pencil to the paper.

When students shared their creations they read them with smiles on their faces and the hope of recognition. When each student finished reciting we snapped our fingers together like we were beatniks from the 60’s.

A few poets may have been created in those moments yesterday, as well as visions of flying dogs who look like pigeons.

Weathered Dreams

November 17, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                          November 16, 2015

                                          

We’re in the midst of a mid-November blizzard. Schools closed, roads closed, people stranded…all those signs that point to the wisdom of staying home. The wind is blowing like there’s no tomorrow. Snow drifts greeted me when I opened the garage door this morning.

Glad I got the lawn mowed yesterday!

This morning I looked out the window in our dining room to our back yard. On our wood fence in the back there is a sign that has been there for a number of years, almost like a picture frame, that says “Dream!”

It reminds us to envision, to imagine, to think the impossible.

But the strong winds and blizzard cold has loosened one of the nails that has been holding the “Dream” in place. Today it swings back and forth on the fence board with uncertainty, as if it has been abandoned. It conveys the mixed message of falling dreams, almost like someone imagining the “not yet” being pulled back down to reality.

Jesus was a dreamer! He preached about the Jubilee year of renewal, release, and redemption; encouraged kids to come to him; envisioned his death and resurrection, talked about healed people and exorcised demons. Of course, he did more than talk! He made what people thought were crazy ideas into realities.

Sometimes we’re guilty of raising up people of faith who have given up on their dreams. The dream sign is swinging back and forth in the winds of church life. The wisdom of how to raise up people of faith is tempered by the pull back into congregational conformity.

“God has given me a vision for helping people in the midst of addiction!”

     “God has placed a dream within my spirit to start a ministry where a team of people offers free vehicle inspections to senior folk.”

     “God has not allowed me a good night’s sleep because of a dream he has given me to mentor kids in reading at the local elementary school.”

     “God has given me a vision to make mittens for kids at the mission we support in British Columbia.”

Dreams come in all sizes and shapes, places and people. I’m convinced a big part of God’s masterpiece gets conveyed through the dreams of his followers. Sometimes they make perfect sense and sometimes, on the surface, they are lacking in common sense. How does the church keep dreams from falling? How do those of us who have been followers of Jesus for a long ways support the new directions of the younger generation?

It takes a bit of faith to see that lemonade comes from lemons. It takes an abundance of hands to be the under-support of a person’s dream that seeks to rise.

When the blizzard passes I’ll go out into out back yard and pound the nail back in place on our “Dream” sign. Or perhaps I’ll take the sign off from where it is and raise it up another six inches!

Popcorn Stories

October 5, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                            October 5, 2015

                                                 

My four year old granddaughter, Reagan, has a creative streak about her. I think most four year olds do, until stressed-out grown-ups tell them to conform to the norm. You know…color between the lines, not outside the lines!

Thankfully Reagan has a a mom and dad who encourage creativity…so whenever Reagan is in the car with me after I’ve picked her up from her pre-kindergarten for four year olds we have a unique kind of story time on the car ride to the next destination.

She calls it “popcorn stories”, because you’re never quite sure what’s going to pop up.

The way it works is she tells me what the story is to be about. Lately, she’s been fixated on a goat named “Billy”, a little boy named “Billy” (Billy the Kid!), and a fox.

I begin the story with those things in mind, and then when I say “Popcorn!” she picks up the story from there until she says “Popcorn!”, and then it’s back to me.

That back-and-forth goes on until we reach our destination.

It’s amazing the plot twists and turns that can happen in a ten minute car ride between an AARP member and a four year old.
Billy the Kid got captured by the mean old fox…Popcorn!

And the fox strung him up by his ankles until he was ready to eat him…Popcorn!

And the fox was listening to some of his favorite music…foxtrot…and fell asleep with his fox Beats wireless headphones on. He dreamed of running freely through fields of grain, and his own swimming pool…Popcorn!

Meanwhile Billy Goat was combing the hairs on his chin because they had tangles on them, and he decided to have a peanut butter sandwich with banana slices and pickles. And then he said “I wonder where Billy the Kid is!” I thought he was going to have lunch with me…Popcorn!

Stop!

Reagan and I have dealt with tornados, squeaky mice, mean little boys, pumpkin patches, and squiggly worms. You’re never quite sure where the story is going to take us, or how it’s going to turn out.

Each of us has just half of the story! We rely on one another to help row the boat down the stories stream.

I’m sure she will grow our of it after a while…hopefully, not too quickly…but perhaps we’ll get a few novels created in the midst of our vehicle before then.

Reagan is about about the story, which tells of a different kind of book that she is writing. It’s entitled How to Wrap Your Grandfather Around Your Little Finger?”

Baptist Bucket Challenge

August 22, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        August 21, 2014

                                       

I’m trying to be creative!

If the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge can raise 15.6 million dollars (to date) in the seeking for a cure to Lou Gehrig’s disease by challenging people to dump a bucket of ice and water over their heads, there’s got to be something that I can challenge the people of our American Baptist church to do to take care of a budget deficit.

People don’t misunderstand me. I’m not minimizing the ALS cause. I did the ice bucket challenge on Tuesday, and challenged a couple of other people to then do it. I also remember leading a funeral service several years ago for a man who had gradually deteriorated from ALS. IN the last couple of years of his life he and his wife had attended the church I pastored. I saw how the disease slowly decimated his body and his hope.

So, I understand the effects of the disease, and I am delighted that people have dumped enough ice water over their heads to fill Lake Erie.

Now, if I could think of something to loosen the purse strings of a bunch of Baptists!

What would be creative, but also not destructive, life-threatening, or end up on one of those TV shows that airs video clips that display people’s stupidity?

What could loosen people’s grips on their cash that wouldn‘t necessitate me having to wear a diaper, kiss a pig, or wallow in manure?

What could people of my church challenge one another to do?

Since we’re a Baptist church maybe it should be something that involves baptism! Not necessarily baptism by immersion. People get baptized in other ways, you know…like baptized by fire!

Not sure we’d get many volunteers for fire baptism, however!

Baptized in the Spirit might be a possibility. There are always a few people that I’d love to be smacked up the side of the head by the Holy Spirit. I’d even pay for it!

Back pedal! It seems that Simon the Sorcerer tried to do something like that in Acts 8, and it didn’t go over very well!

I’d be willing to be baptized by already-cooked shrimp, but I’m not sure anyone would give a donation for that. I’d enjoy it, though!

I’d be willing to be baptized in ice cream, but I’m a little hesitant to have people standing around me with spoons and chocolate sauce.

Perhaps a Coffee Cup Challenge. I’d be willing to drink Folger’s Coffee for donations. There’s a hefty price for pain and suffering…even involving your taste buds.

Or how about a Prune Juice Gulp Challenge. Fifty bucks for each ounce of prune juice I down. The downside of that is that I’m sure there is a limit…personally speaking.

I dressed up as Queen Elsa this summer for $200 collected by kids. There’s got to be someone that adults would want tome to dress up as and throw money at.

Friends of mine have done the duct tape challenge where they got duct taped to a wall. That wouldn’t be too bad unless people stuck me up there and left!

Sleep deprivation could be an option. There’s a group of young guys at church who would pay to see me stay awake after 10:00.

There’s got to be some creative ways for a group of mostly teatotalers to way funds that are legal and won’t get us on the evening news in the crime section. Maybe the
Ice Bucket Baptism! Total immersion (A Big Bucket), not sprinkling!

Boom…got it!