Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Art and prayer

A friend gave me an incredible gift last night: a beautiful hank of fibers for braiding. They are the colors of early fall - the fading green of the last leaves, the brilliant orange and red and yellows of the dying leaves, and the deep brown of the branches just beginning to peek out. There are nearly 2 yards of fiber for braiding, and all I will have to do will be to lay them out on my braiding stand. I have already decided that such beautiful fiber must be done in a simple circular braid, with only the simplest of embellishments, if any.

From the moment I lay the bunch over the top of my braiding stand, through winding the weights, doing the smooth motions of braiding, through the final securing of the braid, I have an opportunity to open up my work to a feeling of Communion with the work of Creation. In Hebrew, there's a notion that human beings are called to help God in the act of creation. The idea is called Tikkun olam, and speaks to a partnership of building the world. When Jews pray over bread, they thank God for bringing bread from the earth. Well, wheat springs from the earth, but people do the rest of the work. In the same way, creating a better world is the job of humanity, working together with God.

I am looking forward to this weekend, when I will work carefully with that beautiful fiber, probably outside on a blanket, so that I can be surrounded by the summer, even as I work with this reminder of early fall. And the time to braid those two yards, perhaps only a few hours, will be set aside for a kind of prayer. For me as I meditate and pray and braid, I think it's a little like the Catholic prayer of the rosary, something solid and grounding to keep me on the subject as I spend some time with nature, with silence.

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