Creativity Should Not Be Controlled

Yesterday at church, instead of me speaking (since I'm taking a break from it for a while), we invited anybody to read something they'd written.

For about an hour several people got up front and read what they'd written.

Everyone was astounded. The quality of writing was amazing. There was poetry, journal entries, song lyrics, short stories, proverbs, and things that just can't be categorized.

together in the midst of life painting nakedpastor david hayward

(Click on my painting "Together in the Midst of Life" to see it in my store.)

The youngest to read was my daughter Casile, 15 years old, and the oldest was Joyce, in her 70s.

There were people up there who are normally quite vocal and play a pretty visible and audible role in the life of the community. They weren't surprises.

But there were others who never make a peep and hide in the shadows who got up and read some of the most amazing stuff. We were shocked!

This is what I think: when you do something that doesn't follow the norm, like reading personal journal entries in a religious setting, then something happens. It's like all of a sudden things are being said that don't sound religious, don't have religious overtones and aren't even at all moralizing.

Some of the poetry that was read had to do with physical abuse of a child.
Another of the beating of a woman.
Some had to do with our blatant disinterest in Darfur.
Some had to do with love.
One had to do with the death of a sister.
One had to do with wanting to die.
One had to do with atheism and doubting, questioning and abandoning a god that never seemed to exist to begin with.
One had to do with a tubal pregnancy and grieving something that was never even seen.
One had to do with wanting to stop this race and just enjoy the view from here.
One was a friend's tribute to another woman in our congregation just diagnosed with Altzeimers.
One had to do with depression.

And I can fairly say that although they didn't contain religious vocabulary for the most part, they were very religious in the sense that they testified to something larger than themselves.

We all left amazed, encouraged and filled with a sense of awe. Everyone left feeling more creative or the desire to be.

Creativity cannot and should not be edited or controlled or directed.

I don't think most of the people who read thought, when they were writing, "What would God want me to write?" They just wrote what was heavy on their hearts at the time. As a result, it was free, risky and incisive.

But because of that it did something.
It crossed boundaries.
It walked through walls.
It altered our reality.
We left changed. 

Related Blog Posts on Creativity 

The Importance of Being Creative During Faith Deconstruction
Why You Need Nature in your Creative Process
Embracing Creativity: An Artist Trapped in a Pastor's Body
Can Art Help Improve Your Mental health?

Back to blog

Leave a comment