You’ve heard me say I don’t consider myself a creative but what I really mean is I don’t create with art supplies. All of us have creativity within us. Often times creativity comes in the form of problem solving or wordsmithing or idea generating. Not all creativity hangs on a wall.
This past week I had the rare opportunity to be in the presence of some great creative minds. They offered me their time and generated idea after idea. I’d ask a question, the gears in their minds churned out marvelous, wild, and moving ideas. It was a beautiful thing to watch unfold.
It’s humbling to recognize how desperately I needed their creative minds in order to move forward on my project. And, at the same time, it was so comforting to be on the receiving end of their generosity and enthusiasm. We may be able to go faster alone, but we won’t go far. In other words, if you can do it alone, you’re not working on a big enough project.
In the ancient Middle East, there existed a code of hospitality in the desert. These hospitality customs were a vital part of the culture — even sacred. The arid, desert land is harsh. Travelers need access to water while the settlers need protection. Strict codes of conduct developed to govern these encounters between travelers and settlers. Bedouins (desert dwellers who lived in tents as they followed the grazing of their herds) were obligated to provide for travelers that stopped at their tents and could expect of the travelers protection from any hostile action. The host provided food, water and shelter — a place to wash their feet and rest. The traveler was expected to accept what the host offered. To refuse was an insult that only an enemy would inflict. The entire code of hospitality in this ancient world was so strong it evoked a warning, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels unaware.”
As I reflected on my time with people who freely offered me their ideas (food for my project), I saw how this collaboration (code of hospitality) benefited both of us. They used their gift of creativity, I provided a place their gifts were needed, valued, and protected. I used to think collaboration meant finding a business partner, or hiring more help, or at the very least, it required people who were working for the same company. This experience shifted my understanding. Hearing the desert code of hospitality helped me tie it all together. It’s sacred to give what you have to those who need, value, and protect it.
Who are you collaborating with? How can you begin to operate in the desert code of hospitality?