Why Do We Lose Our Wonderful, Racketty Creativity? by Rosamond Hayden

I have witnessed again and again the power of the question, “What are you reading?” to spark conversation and connection. Not surprisingly, this question turns out to be particularly fruitful when asked within the Life Together community, a place where so many gifts, interests, and passions meet and gather. It was through this question that I recently discovered Madeline L’Engle’s “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.” Throughout the book, L’Engle explores the question of what happens to our creative impulses as we grow up into a world that so often prioritizes output and productivity over the meandering whimsy of the creative process.

In my site placement at Church of Our Saviour in Milton, I have the joy of learning and creating alongside young parishioners during Sunday school. On a recent Sunday the prompt was to draw a picture of how one imagines God. When I asked one young artist about her drawing she responded, “If God was an animal, she would be a Zebra.” This young seeker is tapping into some profound spiritual truth, and I was moved by the certainty and clarity with which she expressed her vision. 

Last Saturday I attended the Boston Book Festival, where hundreds of authors and readers gathered to commune over words and stories that light the way forward and carry us through. At the fiction keynote address, New York Times best-selling author Jaqueline Woodson was asked why she chose to write a “coming of age novel.” Woodson responded, “What even is a coming of age novel? Aren’t we all always coming of age?” I am in love with this idea of “coming of age” as an ongoing process in which we are all, always taking part. One thing that continues to astound me about the Life Together community is the way this process of becoming is valued, honored, and measured not by linear achievement, but circular growth and movement toward wholeness. As a Life Together Fellow I get to live and work alongside so many who see and value this brutal, joyful becoming as an ongoing process in which our creative selves need not be sacrificed or lost, but can be cultivated and drawn out. Last Friday, I was lucky enough to enjoy an open mic night at 40 Prescott, where Life Together fellows (and Bishop Alan Gates!) shared their talents and gifts. From juggling to poetry to song to dramatic reading, I was in awe and deep appreciation of the ways in which so many in this community generously hold and share their abundant gifts. I am forever grateful to be part of a community that sees, values, and celebrates the childlike, “racketty” creativity in us all.