I also spent several days collecting items to make a Christmas gift project. I scoured local craft, home repair and decor stores for various items. Although I couldn’t find everything described in the original concept, I gathered a bunch of stuff to make some gifts. And I discovered a new craft store. I get inspired by colors, textures and mediums.
So last weekend I got all the craft materials and made a mess. However, at least most of the finished products are pleasing to me and I have already given one away. I like giving something that I created. And since I’m writing this on a holiday week, I have been experimenting with food recipes. I collect them for months, and then pull them out for birthdays and holidays. Chopping, mixing, stirring, rolling, grating, all gives way to a satisfaction of providing nourishment for others, and sometimes receiving compliments. Besides, I enjoy eating and I like variety!
I’m not as ambitious as I once was, but sometimes I like doing something manual with which I can see results. So much of life for students and writers, is head work. We sit, ride, read, compute and watch a lot of the time. There is something satisfying about producing art or a craft that is an object to display, devour or give to someone. I believe that a mix of using hands and mind strengthens one’s ability to think. I used to come up with creative ideas when as an adolescent I spent many hours every summer on the riding lawn mower at the farm. Weeding, picking and processing fruit and vegetables also gave me those opportunities.
I joke that when I’m feeling blocked, frustrated or uncertain of myself, I bake a pie. It’s a hand-crafted, tasty, and gratifying practice. Lately I have even enjoyed washing some dishes the old-fashioned way with hands in hot, soapy water. We all have differing gifts, abilities and intelligences. Yet I challenge you to try producing something manual, requiring work with your hands if you are short on money for gifts, or short on mental energy. Of course, if much of your experience is physical work, then you may need the challenge of learning a new skill, teaching something, reading or writing. It’s about striving for balance and stretching rusty neural and muscular pathways.
Moses studied with the best minds in Egypt, then tended sheep before leading thousands of people. David was a shepherd, a musician, poet, a warrior and a King. Jesus chose mostly young fishermen to communicate the Gospel. The Apostle Paul, trained by the best rabbis in his day, helped support his own ministry by tent making (Acts. 18:3).
I am reminded of several Scriptures: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, NIV).
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men… It is the Lord you are serving” (Colossians 3: 23-24).
Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:
1. Where do you need balance in your life right now? More physical or more mental work?
2. Is there a hobby or craft that you used to enjoy and could revive? How could you make time to practice it for just a few minutes each week?
Karen Spruill writes from Orlando, Florida.
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