Crafting and “Collecting”
This Lent Contemplative Knitting practice is a real gift, though I am beading rather than knitting. Beading has become my hands-on passion; something that no one looking at the many containers of beads in my small office could question. I remember thinking that I’d found a hobby which wouldn’t take much space. Ha! Then I decided to sell whatever jewelry I create to support a charity. Whooee – justification for more beads! Do you see where I’m going with this?
A regular theme of conversation on the beading sites is the size of our stashes and how we organize them. We’ve had conversations about what will happen to our stashes when we die – even as we share our latest additions. Some people show photos of entire rooms dedicated to beading, with cabinets and shelves bursting with beads, tools and supplies; tempting many of us to envy. I laughed at a meme which proclaims, “I’m not a bead hoarder. I’m the curator of an extensive, private bead collection.” But is it really funny? Where is God in this?
Aside from the beading project I am praying with, following Julie’s invitation to enter more deeply into prayer through a calm, repetitive practice, I hope to get real about how many and what kinds of beads I really need. (True confession: In my cart at my favorite on-line bead supply store is an order for “just a few” more beads.) Do I really need to leap at the next shiny thing? Will I really, in my lifetime, bead all of those patterns I’ve collected? What can I release so I have more time, space and calm to let God speak to me, guide me, teach me and make me a better, more loving servant? What is truly important?
I know knitters and crocheters who are really skilled. They can whip out extraordinary items – both beautiful and useful – in the time it would take me to cast on a simple shawl. I wonder if they have similar issues. Do yarn crafters “curate extensive private yarn collections”?
Whether you knit, crochet, bead, do paper crafting, paint glass, scrapbook or whatever, here are some questions for potential reflection. Has your craft started to take over the space you have? What would it be like to give away some of your supplies to someone else who could use them but can’t afford them? Does your stash take the place of something more important, or might it protect you from listening to God whispering in that empty place inside you? Does your craft become an excuse for avoiding those hard places in your relationships?
On the other hand, how is your craft a true gift from God? How are you using it in the service of God and other people? What is it about what you are crafting, about the process, that gives you the greatest joy? What about your craft, your sacred art, brings deep desire to offer thanksgiving and praise? I promise, I’m asking these questions right alongside you. May your Lent bring true blessings as you knit or crochet or bead or do whatever your hands long to do in prayer.
Sister Diana Doncaster – Bio
Sister Diana Doncaster, aka the nun2good, is an Episcopal priest and member of the Community of the Transfiguration in Cincinnati, Ohio. Once upon a time, she was given a a lovely, simple seed bead bracelet. That was all it took. She had to figure out how to make it. She discovered Pinterest. She discovered Facebook beading sites. She met a friend who taught her new stitches. But a Sister vowed to poverty, chastity and obedience must have a good reason for creating jewelry. After all, she wears a habit most of the time (except while in isolation during COVID which just goes on and on and on.) So since she has long been sold on the idea of micro-loans and micro-finance as superb ways to help people help themselves, she decided that any proceeds from selling her beadwork will go to Episcopal Relief and Development’s Microfinance program. She continues to live in that odd space among three mottos: “Benignitas, Simplicitas, Hilaritas” (Kindness, Simplicity, Joy), the motto of the Community of the Transfiguration; “There is no such thing as too many books or beads”; and “No outfit is complete without cat hair”. That last is the gift of her feline companion, a Siberian Forest cat named Motka who loves to “help” with just about everything.
Rows 12-20 of Pattern #26 Japanese Stitch Bible