Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Tatting Continues

Over the weekend and the last couple of days, I have continued to work on the tatting off and on. The bulk of my time is going to the Hardanger Tablecloth (which I will post about later), but my eyes can only take about 3-4 hours of embroidery before they start to feel like live coals. The tatting is much easier on the eyes, but I'm still working on the fine motor muscle development to do that for longer periods of time. In other words, the two balance each other.

With such large amounts of time devoted to hand work, I've had plenty of opportunity to think about why it is that I like to do these things. I can sum it up with two thoughts.

So many of the gentle arts are being lost, and that grieves me. "Lost art" encompasses so much more than hand made lace and doilies. It includes conversation and sharing our lives with others. With a majority of the population plugged into technology, the simple graces of relationships and beauty are fading. When we do gather together, it often seems that we gather around the television or computer. Gifts are bought pre-made with little time invested in thinking about the intended recipient. Yes, I know that the different social platforms allow us to be more connected than ever, but I would argue that those connections are more shallow and largely self centered. I don't want this to become a sermon, but imagine how different it might be if more people put down the gadgets and picked up the tools of creation.

The second reason is a little more personal. In my life, I have already spent too much time in the waiting room--waiting for people to live and waiting for people to die. In those times, the circumstances that you find yourself in are far beyond your control. Often, the only thing you can do is pray.* And while prayer is the most powerful thing we can do in any situation, it does leave the rest of your body antsy and fidgety. Having something to do with your hands is a very grounding, calming thing. It soothes the feeling of helplessness, and gives you a steady point from which to focus your thoughts; not unlike a tripod for a telescope.
In a way, it reminds me of the liturgy used in worship. Liturgy itself is not the desired result, but a means to an end (at least, when it's done correctly). Liturgy, in it's simplest definition (a prescribed ritual) can be a framework for worship. Similarly, hand work in times of stress (or otherwise) can be a type of liturgy to refocus our attentions on the Lord, who is always in control.

*Why being in this position is the best thing for us is matter for another post, elsewhere.

Probably not the post you expected, huh?