Crafting for Calm

I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with the arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.”
Saul Bellow

In this wired, wild world, it is harder than ever to truly calm oneselfeverywhere we go, we are assaulted by noise, stimulation, the never-ending crawl at the bottom of our screens. As a recent Washington Post article explored, we are so caught up in our busy little worlds that sources of true beauty have trouble penetrating our rushed routines; how else to explain the fact that during a disheartening social experiment, in which world-class violinist Joshua Bell played unannounced and anonymously in a D.C. Metro station, hardly anyone (except children) bothered to stop and listenand the collection for the renowned musician playing an hour-and-a-half in the subway was a mere $32?

The 20th-century Catholic priest and writer Henri Nouwen once wrote that Through the spiritual life we gradually move from the house of fear to the house of love”and the same thing could be said about the creative life. By immersing ourself in our creative activity, we can still those voices around us and in uswe can enter the stillness which characterizes prayer and the house of love.” We can open ourselves and experience spaciousness.

Many if not all of us will find ourselves naturally calming or gentling” down when we carve out the space to simply be with our Creator and our crafting materials. We will find, as the artist Corita Kent wrote, that there is an energy in the creative process that belongs in the league of those energies which can uplift, unify and harmonize all of us.”

Some crafts themselves are inherently calming; both the process and the product serve as vehicles for calm and even prayer. As Susan Gordon Lydon reminds us in The Knitting Sutra, Handcrafts throughout history have often been fashioned with the aid of prayer, one prayer for each bead or each stitch, while keeping good thoughts to enhance the spiritual purpose of the object.”

The practices in this section offer a spectrum of sensory appeal; from the smells and touch of anointing oils, to the sounds and sight of a tabletop meditation fountain, you will find activities here to truly help you to be still, and know that God is God.