(Translated from an article published in January 1996 when my boys were 5 and 8 years old)
The Genesis creation story is strongly tied to the initial chaos or formlessness which is the state of the earth as described in the bible story. Creation grew out of that initial chaos. Children creative ability is also strongly tied to their capacity to live in chaos and recreate it daily. In other words: children do not seem to have any troubles living with mess, on the contrary!
I contend that the building blocks of creation are hidden in that mess…
Who of us parents did not experience the struggle with our children to put their toys and treasurers back in place and get the house in order again? “We can not live in such a mess” I tell my kids righteously. After all, I will be the one who will have to pick everything up, and though, after convincing arguments on my part they will lend a hand, one Lego piece at a time, they do not have any interest in the process themselves and will never initiate it.
I recently noticed that after I decide that it is finally time to clean-up the playroom, and after I get my kids to help me armed with the argument that “after that you will be able to see what you are doing and find everything”, afterwords, when the playroom is finally in order and is to my liking, my kids will wonder around aimlessly with nothing to do or go turn on the TV. A short while later when they return to the playroom, it will be hard to notice any traces of the earlier “clean-up”.
In a sense, “putting things in order” really means restoring the “old order”, the way things were before it got messed up. It is a way to deny a new and renewed order that is born out of the current chaos. When order takes place it often puts a damper on the creative process whose sole purpose is to bring about a new order. That new order is creation itself!
There is something threatening in the powerful creative force and energy that children are blessed with. They are meant to turn our world upside-down and recreate it. Our children, especially when young, show us daily the potential we also have to create and renew, to forge new paths, to reach new places. They wake in us the “creative spark” we all suppressed already – in one way or another – but which refuses to completely disappear. For kids, and maybe also for the rest of us, chaos is the best starting point for a great game/story/etc. Creation is all but bringing about a new order to things. It is best done from Chaos.
Personally, though, I will spend some time restoring things to the way they were so I may rest and breathe easy…