Some years ago, before my health packed up, I had the remarkable experience of being with my brother as the guest of the Caterpillar Tractor Company in Peoria, Illinois. He works for CAT in NZ and I went along for the ride.
It was a wonderful week being spoilt in the best hotel, with an upmarket vehicle and a driver and generally being treated like royalty.
CAT has many sites in the area, with one of its buildings taking up 400 acres and employing three and a half thousand people.
This huge company was worth two billion dollars a year to the US economy then – no doubt worth much more today.
But what sticks in my mind was the relaxed atmosphere on the shop floor, the sheer enthusiasm of the workers and the loyalty of the retirees who were everywhere doing little tasks and showing visitors around.
While they seemed to have fairly enlightened staff policies, the magic that held it all together was creativity.
Each section of any plant was like being in some little country engineering shop rather than a mammoth complex.
I wanted to see blocks of steel arrive at one end and a bright yellow machine trundle out the other and this is what I saw many times over.
The look on these people’s faces showed their pride in what they were making. I never met a grumpy worker that week. Creativity brings out the best in people.
Danish 19th-century philosopher SØren Kierkegaard said that we understand life backwards but live life forward.
Take away the rear vision and we get unhooked from tradition and forget where our convictions, feelings and behaviours came from and become totally confused.
On the other hand, if we resist the view ahead, we lose touch with real life. The contemporary Christian has the best of traditions to build on and a concern for the future to keep us motivated so that our fears don’t overwhelm us.
The icon for all this is God as creator and the privilege we have to be co-creators with God.
Creation seems to be God’s strong suit and people at their creative best are right there in the heart of God who is past, present and to come.
Whenever we remember the Holy Trinity we think of the dynamic centre of our creative, totally happy God.
The good news is we are baptised into that same Trinity. That’s why it’s great when we can do what we are good at – creating, just like God.
I guess it’s what makes industries hum, too – a sort of divine intuition of what the creator is like.