“Untold numbers of crafters before me have discovered that there is something about working with the hands that can bring a deeper understanding of God and of our purpose in God’s universe. Perhaps it’s because when we’re making something we’re engaged in an act of creation – an act that we then share with the Creator. Our creations are extensions of God’s creations. And, when we craft, we’re using our talents, skills, and abilities that came to us from the hand of God. To me, it isn’t a stretch to imagine that the use of these abilities can be a link to the Mystery that originally gave them to us. When I’m crafting, I feel more alive and more involved in my inner spiritual life than at any other time. Kimberly Winston Fabric of Faith: A Guide to the Prayer Quilt Ministry.”
There is a story, perhaps truth, perhaps Urban Legend, about Ram Dass, Psychologist and Psychedelic, when he was giving a demonstration of several different kinds of meditations to a large group of students on a college campus. Seated just a few rows back, directly in front of his podium, a little lady sat. She was older than most of his students. She wore a pink print dress and a very pretty little straw hat; and every time he expounded on the benefits of meditation, she smiled at him and nodded her head in agreement. When his lecture was over, he sought her out. “You seemed to be in tune with what I was saying,” he commented to her. “Do you meditate regularly?” “In a way,” she answered. “you see, I crochet.”
The creative arts of almost every kind provide an ideal way for us to quiet our mind and deepen our Spiritual connection. As our hands do the physical job of creating anything, our minds wend their way easily to the Creator for inspiration and guidance. According to Dr. Karla Kincannon, Director of Field Education at Garrett-Evangelical, “Creativity is so much more than art making. It is a tool for navigating through everyday experiences to find the sacred in each God-given moment.”
Luca Celentano, the gentle father figure in my book, “Go to ELF! – Connecting With the Eternal Life Force”, finds comfort and much more in knitting. His son, Tony, (who was embarrassed by his Father’s knitting when he was a teenager), grew into a man who also liked to knit. They had an interesting conversation about Luca’s early attraction to knitting as Tony was approaching his 40th birthday: “I never knew what to call it,” Luca explained, “but I had a connection to what I thought of as my ‘invisible friend’. And I felt closest to my invisible friend when I was knitting. So whenever I needed to figure out how to do something, I just sat in my study knitting as I told my invisible friend my story. After a while I would simply get an answer, a real clue as to how to solve my problem. It never failed me, not even once.”
Art therapy came naturally to Luca, even though he didn’t know that was what he was using to connect to his Spiritual nature. Now many varieties of art therapy are introduced by psychologists to their patients. Those who are reluctant to try drawing or painting on their own are encouraged to make collages, by pasting pictures and other objects onto canvasses to create works of art, or to use decoupage to create beautiful arts and crafts.
Crafting is as old as civilization and some of it has changed little in technique over hundreds of years. One of my fondest early memories as a child in New England was going to the State and County Fairs and peering into glass cases containing beautiful examples of hand stitching, glass painting, etching, knitting, crocheting, tatting and quilting. Then there were the carvings from wood and soap and wax, rug weaving and rug braiding; and beyond that the cooking and baking and cake decorating competitions and all of the carefully preserved jellies and jams and beautifully made candies that stood tall to receive their ribbons. Each creation was entirely unlike any other and most were created for practicality as well as beauty. You could feel the expression of great love in those offerings, and in some cases, master-level degrees of art and form.
Crafting – or folk art as it is often called – is a sacred form of self-expression; a calling from the heart to create or make something unlike anything that has ever been created before. A thousand people could attempt to duplicate one piece of handwork and all thousand versions would be different. Why? Because the Creator made each of us to be unique and so we are left with no choice but to create in kind. By doing what each of us can to make the world a lovelier place, we consistently expand the depth of beauty, both in our own souls and in the full scope of the entire Universe.
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