A review of Culture Care by Makoto Fujimura and a case for creativity as part of our everyday lives.

An Invitation to the Generative Life

Our first summer living on this country hill, the budget was tight and luxuries were few.  I had planted a garden that seemed huge to me at the time, and a friend, intending to surprise me, weeded the entire plot as a generous gift from the heart.  How could she have known that those random shoots between the green beans would have become marigolds or that the tomato plants had been interspersed with a potential forest of sunflowers?  Reading Culture Care by Makoto Fujimura explained for me the long ago disappointment and the deep sense of loss that clouded my gratitude to that well-meaning friend:  those flower seeds had been planted just for joy.  To me, they had represented hope and beauty in a world that ran almost exclusively toward practicality.

Our common lives become far too common when we fail to carve out a space for beauty.  Makoto argues effectively that when we starve our souls in pursuit of our “living,” we lose sight of our own nature as creative beings, made in the image of a Creator God who calls us to lives of fruitfulness and beauty.  Working from insights gained in his calling as an artist, the author invites his readers into the generative life, which is “fruitful, originat[es] new life, [and] . . . draws on creativity to bring into being something fresh and life giving.”


I’m sharing my review of Makoto Fujimura’s influential book over at The Perennial Gen today, and you are invited to click on over and join us there! The Perennial Gen is a space for men and women in the second half of life to cultivate frank conversation about transitions in our faith, culture, church, relationships, vocation, and bodies. Be sure to check out some of the great writing there when you visit.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope,

michele signature rose[1]


40 thoughts on “An Invitation to the Generative Life”

  1. You must have been so disappointed losing your flowers, Michele. Are you able to laugh about it now? Beauty is a huge part of a quality life for me. I am astounded by the beauties of nature, but also enjoy artistic human creations. I’m headed over to check out the Perennial Gen now. Thanks for the tip. And have a beautiful day!


    1. Yes, I can laugh about it–and I can also apply it to all sorts of life lessons (not the least of which is communication!).
      Thanks, Christie, for reading, and may 2019 hold many opportunities to experience beauty!


  2. ‘planted just for joy’

    yes, yes, Michele. Sometimes that’s simply the sole purpose of a gift God has given. and we miss it dreadfully if for some reason it’s taken from us. or we lose it along the way.

    a needed reminder this morning. and I thank you …


    1. Yes, I’m still planting marigolds here and there all these years later–but right now there’s nearly six inches of snow on my garden. It’s fun to read and write about garden dirt and sunflowers in January!


  3. Apparently I did the same thing to my father’s sweet peas, I weeded the garden for him of all his new shoots! I was trying to help my Dad while he was at work :-/. I was all of 5 years old!


  4. The Perennial Gen seems like an interesting place. I think I’ll check it out. Yes, there must always be a place for joy and beauty. Sometimes we have to plant it ourselves and other times we have to search for where it lays…usually right in front of us when we simply open our eyes.


  5. I loved the quote: “Arts are not a luxury but a path to educate the whole individual toward thriving.” I am going to share it with my daughter, a music teacher. Our God, Creator of everything, displayed immense creativity and each time stated, “it is good”. May we let Him cultivate and grow creativity in us, producing fruit in our lives that will last. Thank you for sharing about this book, Michele. I appreciated it!


    1. My youngest son wrote an entire paper, arguing that arts education is essential for encouraging kids to flourish and to become adults who are “fully human” in their ability to enjoy beauty. I’m in favor of anything we can do to encourage and appreciate those warriors who teach our kids music!


  6. Michelle, I loved this post. I’m stopping by from the Wise Woman linkup. A friend recommended a book called For the Beauty of the Church by W. David O. Taylor. The foreword is by Luci Shaw, whose book on creativity for Christians, Breath for the Bones, is one I thoroughly enjoyed.


      1. Well then, I’m extra glad I visited your blog today! I love beauty as a means of grace. My favorite places are cathedrals, art museums, and forests with waterfalls.


      2. I can certainly see why!
        We’re a little short on cathedrals and art museums here in rural Maine, but the view from Windy Hill, down the trail behind my house is stunning. I know what you mean by beauty as a means of grace. God is so completely there when we bear witness to His creativity!


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