Outtakes . . .

An excerpt from Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life

Author Makoto Fujimura, Director of Fuller’s Brehm Center, is an artist, writer, and speaker recognized worldwide as a cultural shaper.

As newlyweds, Makoto and his wife, Judy, were struggling to make ends meet. One evening Judy came home with a bouquet of flowers and Mako was upset that she had spent money on flowers when there was rent to pay. She simply said, “We need to feed our souls, too.” Mako reflects on this experience:

Bringing home a small bouquet of flowers created a genesis moment for me. Judy’s small act fed my soul. It renewed my conviction as an artist. It gave me new perspective. It challenged me to deliberately focus on endeavors in which I could truly be an artist of the soul. That moment engendered many more genesis moments in the years that followed, contributing to  decisions small and large that have redefined my life and provided inspiration for myself, my family, and my communities. 

Genesis moments like this often include elements of the great story told in the beginning of the biblical book of Genesis: creativity, growth—and failure. Two of these elements are common in discussions about arts and culture. God creates and calls his creatures to fruitfulness. Adam exercised his own creativity in naming what has been created. But the story also runs into failure and finitude. 

Generative thinking often starts out with a failure, like my failure to think and act like an artist. I have discovered that something is awakened through failure, tragedy, and disappointment. It is a place of learning and potential creativity. 

In such moments you can get lost in despair and denial, or you can recognize the failure and run toward the hope of something new . . . . 

Creativity applied in a moment of weakness and vulnerability can turn failure into enduring conversation, opening new vistas of inspiration and carnation. 

To remember what Judy did, to speak of it to others, to value her care—all this is generative . . . leading to the birth of ideas and actions, artifacts and relationships that would not otherwise have been.