Friday 30 November 2018

Accidental Grace and Creative Divinity

Recently, I held a retreat at my home. Each day we took time to do Morning Pages (as per Julia Cameron’s example) and allowed the writing to take us places we never expected.
Over the weekend, each person had a moment of creative divinity—a point where the pen, the past and the present collided with the divine.
The documentary Iris tells the story of Iris Apfel, the flamboyantly dressed nonagenarian who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. One story in the movie spoke to me in particular. 
When she was twelve years old, Iris found a little shop in the basement of an 'old rat-trap building' that was run by 'a little old man who was very elegant'. There, she fell in love with a brooch with filigree and rose-cut diamonds.

She lusted after the brooch and saved and scrimped. Sometime later, she went back. She haggled for the first time in her life and bought it for the huge sum of sixty-five cents. 
This moment of creative divinity in Iris’s life led to even more creative moments and a career in fashion and interior design. 
 Inspired by an excursion to a heritage-listed house when I was ten years old, I found myself writing a story. I have never forgotten the feeling of words flowing from my head, through my body, through the pen onto paper. 

I have never forgotten the physical mark of the pen on my hand. I’ve never forgotten the mark on my soul. I’ve never forgotten the day I first dreamed of being a writer.

We often ask, ‘What’s my purpose?’ and when that purpose is not clear to us at the outset we get frustrated. However, as Elizabeth Gilbert alludes to in Big Magic, sometimes our purposes are found in accidental grace

Curiosity will take you places along the way and you may even wonder what it is you’re meant to do. 

Detours can take our story off on tangents, but can actually start to make sense when things collide in one of those magnificent moments that causes you to say, ‘This is what I was made to do.’ 

I taught English for many years. I encouraged others to write. I read other writers’ work. I wrote academic papers. I wrote. But, I was on a major detour. One I don’t regret at all, but there was another story to be written. 

Ten years ago, I sat in my office and wrote a letter of resignation. It was time to honour the story promise of my life.

It’s not about one moment of divine creativity. If you’re curious you might just have those moments throughout your life. Maybe, like Iris, you may even get to still have them in your nineties. 

We all have creative divinity in us because we all have a touch of the Divine Creator and it’s our gift and responsibility to follow our curiosity. 

Iris said, ‘I never really knew what I was doing. I just followed my curiosity.’

That’s accidental grace. That’s creative divinity. 



Elaine realised she wanted to be a writer at ten years of age when the words flew off the page during a creative writing lesson. 

She studied English and Education at university and went on to spend many years as a high school English teacher teaching others how to write.  

In 2005, Elaine took the plunge and began writing full-time. Since then she has published five books and blogs at

Elaine’s passion is to write about real issues with a spiritual edge. 

When she’s not travelling the world in search of quirky bookstores or attending writing retreats in exotic locations, she can be found in the Perth hills sitting in her library—writing, reading, mentoring writers and hugging her golden retriever. 


  1. What an encouraging post, Elaine. I love how God uses the detours in our lives for His plans, and that sometimes when we’re back on the ‘right’ track we are graced to see them.

    1. Thanks, Carolyn. The detours make the best stories! 😀

  2. Accidental Grace - the story of my life. I'm always falling into things. Looking forward to your next divine creation, Elaine.

  3. Thanks, Meredith. I'm thankful to be led by a loving God who 'makes all things work together for good'. 😀


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