It started with an online ad. A quality sewing machine being sold for a ridiculously low price, the unfortunate casualty of our 21st century sensibilities. My wife, Debbie, spotted the ad, made a few inquiries, and purchased it for one of our daughters.
A little backstory. Debbie is an excellent seamstress, and she was mentored by her mother, Sandy, for whom sewing is one of her superpowers. So naturally my daughters were exposed to the art of sewing at an early age, though they didn’t really spend much time behind a sewing machine. One of our daughters casually began to talk about learning again, not only because she thought it would be a fun and creative thing to do, but also because she has been thinking a lot about the injustices and implications of our global economy. So Debbie bought one for her. It was a few weeks later that patterns were purchased, a weekend was selected, and a sewing bee was born.
Sew it goes. For the past few weeks, my home has been transformed into the center of the sewing universe. Patterns are cut on the kitchen counter. The living room is strewn with yards of fabric around an ironing board. The dining table houses two sewing machines which seemingly inhale and exhale in mechanical purrs. And Daughters, Mom, and Grandma—three generations of our family—playfully move between each station, occasionally discussing a seam, a hem, a collar, a pocket, a story.
Honestly, I love watching them work, for reasons both rational and unexplainable. There’s a sense that something good and worthwhile is being passed from generation to generation. An anachronistic skillset perhaps, but more so a deepening appreciation for family, for artisanship, for the wisdom that comes with age. There is a shalom in these moments—a simple shared satisfaction that comes from slowing the soul, and a feeling that all is right in the world. And then there are those moments—when I see Grandma leaning into her Granddaughter, whispering quiet instructions over the whir of the sewing machine, and I think to myself: a memory is being created right now. And I don’t want to miss it.
Sewing, like all expressions which require craftsmanship, is an art. And art evokes emotion. Here are a few takeaways.
• As artists of faith, we need to find places to give ourselves away, especially to the younger generations. Sharing our art can be a means upon which we can impart the deeper Truths of being.
• For many of us, our art is our happy place. As it should be. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to share that place with others. All artists of faith should have places where one can collectively gather with others to share one’s artmaking experience—whether it is a writer’s group, a painting collective, a band, an art studio, etc.
• It is a good thing to embrace and incorporate actions into our lives that are anti-technology. We need to put down the tech and simply use our hands. Plant a garden, dip a paintbrush, cook a gourmet meal, sculpt some clay. Interact with creation in creative ways. It will fill your soul.
• In this current age of Covid, it’s easy to slip into ruts. Boredom, apathy, dissatisfaction, annoyance—these are the states of being that we can find ourselves languishing in, states of being that will drain the life out of an artist and sap us of our passions. I continue to encourage you to see this pandemic environment as an opportunity to explore in greater ways your talents and skills and creativity.