Quakers gather to quilt.
While standing in line waiting for the doors to open for the Craftacular last Sunday morning, I overheard this snippet of conversation:
Lady A: Where are ---? Weren't they coming?
Lady B: They're at church. They'll come here after and meet us.
Lady A: Church? This is MY church!
And Lady A has, indeed, hit upon a truth. Creative acts have a role in spirituality that goes far beyond singing in church choirs. Anyone who knows of the meditative nature of knitting, or the way that focusing one's physical and mental energies on a single creative process can bring calm, will perhaps agree with Lady A.
In his book All In Sync: How Music and Art Are Revitalizing American Religion, scholar Robert Wuthnow reports on how creating something--be it music, painting, sculpture, knitting, and more--is a spiritually soothing and community-building act. His work was striking to me because it reveals the great variety of ways that art and craft find homes in religious traditions and spirituality in this country today.
But the theme of spirituality-meets-craft isn't found just in Shaker communities or within the programming of traditional religions. The Church of Craft places the creative act center stage. I attended my first Church of Craft event as part of a DIY Salon night at the Museum of Arts and Design earlier this spring. The evening featured crafters from the New York Church of Craft who led us through lessons in the art of shrinky sheets, embroidery, button making, and more. The Church of Craft encourages people to gather and share the creative process within a community of individuals who value the spiritual elements of the handmade. There are pockets of Church of Craft all over, and the community is welcoming. They will surely welcome you too. They regularly announce their meetings in the Nonsense NYC mailing list, and you can subscribe here.