When I’m stuck in my writing or family history research–rather like Mary Lennox stuck on the wrong side of the door in The Secret Garden–there are three sources I draw on that open the garden door of inspiration to me.
1) The Inspiring Spirit–It is said that those who pray will be given the gift to write by the spirit of inspiration (Moses 6:5). In this sense I’m defining inspiration as given by Elder Richard G. Scott in his clear-cut talk How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life:
The Holy Ghost communicates important information that we need to guide us in our mortal journey. When it is crisp and clear and essential, it warrants the title of revelation. When it is a series of promptings we often have to guide us step by step to a worthy objective, for the purpose of this message, it is inspiration.
I love George Macdonald’s insight into the Spirit (from his “Mirrors of Christ” sermon):
Where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty; no veil; free sight; clear, radiant insight and perception. Where the Spirit of the Lord is not, there is slavery at all times, dullness, and darkness, and stupidity.
I love following those promptings–like following clues on a treasure map–until I get to the treasure at the end. Often the promptings seem redundant or too simple–the Spirit might prompt “sit down and write for an hour”, but I protest “I have nothing to write about”…then I write and find starting primes the pump and I do have lots to say…
2) Inspiring Words–Words in the right combination can do marvellous things! “Words are things,” Byron wrote “and a small drop of ink, falling like a dew, upon a thought produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions think…”
One of my favourite quotes on creativity is by Elder Neal A. Maxwell (from his article Start Making Chips):
Beauty and truth are all about us, beckoning us to respond. But perspiration usually precedes inspiration, and pondering, reverentially, almost always occurs before we make any breakthrough. Creative work is sweet, but it is work!—Neal A Maxwell (“Start Making Chips”, New Era Sept 1998)
And another favourite is from Winston Churchill (from his book Painting as a Pastime):
It would be a sad pity to shuffle or scramble along through one’s playtime with golf and bridge, pottering, loitering, shifting from one heel to the other, wondering what on earth to do as perhaps is the fate of some unhappy beings when all the while, if you only knew, there is close at hand a wonderful new world of thought and craft, a sunlit garden gleaming with light and colour of which you have the key in your waistcoat pocket.
Isn’t it inspiring to think that in our ordinary lives we have access to that “sunlit garden” with a handful of crayons, or a handful of abcs or a handful of seeds? To use them to illuminate ‘beauty and truth’ for others as Elder Maxwell says!
3) Inspiring Lives–Other people’s lives inspire me. Those I read about, those I learn from and my immediate family members.
My ancestors also inspire me. I love following the treasure hunt in search of some dusty old ancestor and finding the trail leads to a story. Of course usually the stories that have survived the dust of centuries are large and juicy and dramatic. These are the spokespeople, in their lives are condensed the masses whose stories have not survived the centuries but whose adventures, faith and serve was no less awesome.
So I have the story of the elephant hunter who, with a fierce roar and shaky of his lion-like beard, scared away a lion; the story of a Breton priest guillotined during the French Revolution for returned to France after exile to look after his people; the story of a middle-aged servant who began looking after the aged poor as their “little sister” and is now herald as a catholic saint…
But there are also the simpler stories…the old letter found in an attic Wales from an elderly mother to her ailing daughter with the quiet testimony “We know that nothing is impossible to Almighty God.”
These people from my ancestry inspire me to live a better Life Story myself.
I am grateful for the Spirit of Inspiration, Inspiring Words and Inspiring People.
What inspires you?
This post is part of the Balanced challenge with Tricia Goyer—and you can join, too!