Monday, May 06, 2013

Hidden Art of Homemaking: On cupcakes and ceramic unicorns, and something more

See, I ain't as cruel and vicious as I seem
Though I do like breaking femurs, you can count me with the dreamers
Like everybody else, I've got a dream...

Toll would like to quit and be a florist
Gunter does interior design
Urf is into mime
Attila's cupcakes are sublime
Bruiser knits
Killer sews
Ven does little puppet shows
And Vladimir collects ceramic unicorns...

~~ "I've Got a Dream," from Walt Disney's Tangled

Obviously the leisure pursuits of the "Pub Thugs" don't line up so well with their means of making a living.  This seems to me a bit of Disney fantasy, however.  Wouldn't Bruiser be busy enough scouting yarn and teaching sweater classes that he wouldn't have time for trouble and mayhem?  How can someone who cherishes ceramic unicorns go around smashing things?  It's also interesting that the songwriters chose stereotypically "feminine" hidden hobbies for the Thugs--we notice that they're not into woodworking, flyfishing, or hockey.  (No offense meant to male mimes or female hockey players.)

However...they do have a point: that anyone, no matter how unlikely, can have a hidden talent or knack for finding beauty that's just bustin' to get out...and for some of us, developing that talent may be what keeps us sane or out of trouble (or bigger trouble than we're already in).

And even if we don't yearn to collect ceramic unicorns ourselves, can we find ways to open up those doors for those around us?  To give our spouses time, resources, appreciation for their interests?  Our children?  Our children's friends?  Are we opening up art, music, literature, natural outdoor beauty?  Even a little, occasionally, is better than NONE, and that's what a lot of children these days are getting--NONE.  Our family has a limited budget for concerts and plays, but we've taken advantage of low-priced and free options when they've come up.  One year Mr. Fixit and the girls took me out to lunch for my birthday--and then stopped off at a local college for a free lunchtime concert of Renaissance music.  But just focusing more on beauty (of all kinds) in our homes is sometimes the right place to start--as Edith Schaeffer explains.

Can we nurture creativity in our church congregations?  I've heard of innovative churches that have art shows...and how sad, when you think of it, that that has to be considered "innovative."  At the church we attend, our music director organizes evenings of instrumental music, often inviting talented musicians that he knows.  As the adult Sunday School co-ordinators for the same small congregation, Mr. Fixit and I have included sessions on Christian writers and other related topics; we also had a guest teacher this winter for a few weeks, a geographer who is completing a book about the ways that God reveals Himself through the natural world.

Can we go even further?  I know of Christian mission and outreach programs that involve art, music, crafts.   Some quilters have a program at a local correctional facility, and they get the women there involved in making quilts for teenage mothers and babies.  Everybody benefits.  I also recently browsed through a book about herbal crafts, and the author described her stint as craft leader of a church summer program.  There were no paper-plate atrocities in her craft room: she had the children making scented wreaths and other things with dried plants and herbs (many from her own garden), real crafts they could be proud to make and pleased to give someone else.

Many churches have traditionally used sports programs to give kids, guys, dads a way to connect.  Mr. Fixit remembers one childhood priest who often seemed more interested in his duties as basketball coach than he did the more spiritual end of things.   But could we also offer pottery?  Poetry?  Not that churches should become funhouses...or that we should pour our resources into building more glorious cathedrals...but that in whatever situation we call "church," in our everyday walk together as well as in times of worship, we could find ourselves in a place where people, believers and seekers, adults and children, discover something beautiful; where something that is too much lost, can be found.

That's my dream.

Open now thy gates of beauty,
Zion, let me enter there,
Where my soul in joyful duty
Waits for Him who answers prayer.
Oh, how blessed is this place,
Filled with solace, light and grace! 

 ~~ words by Benjamin Schmolk, translated by Catherine Winkworth


Sherry said...

And a lovely dream it is. This follows along with my thoughts from a long time back about churches becoming centers of community---and artistic expression. Not fun houses, to be sure, but centers where the community can come together and express the God-given talents in each one of us.

Dana in Georgia said...

I have always wanted to hostess a Bible study where Schaeffer's book is the topic. Over the course of a year, we would read, meet/eat, and hear one participant lead the discussion and/or demonstrate her talent. I have even penciled in the names of ladies at my church who fit the bill. I mean, there is one particularly gifting at flower arranging, another who is good at drama/theater, and so on.

hsmomino said...

a wonderful dream!
Your opening paragraphs remind me of a friend - a big, burly, weight-lifting, football player kind of guy, who is also a high school art teacher and who paints the most amazing watercolor landscapes.
and love the example you shared of the lady who provides 'real' crafts for the children - how nice to send them home with beautiful and useful creations.

Leslie said...

One summer a church not too far from us (Tx) hosted a week long art camp. It was like VBS...sort of. I thought it was a neat idea. I also have seen people who paint during a sermon.....but that is probably a whole different tangent.

Oh this just came to my memory...I remember reading in one of frederica mathewes green's book how they painted icons. We are not Orthodox but her story captured my imagination.

Cindy said...

Our old church hosted a monthly book club and our church in Chattanooga has set aside a wall panel for a mural of answered prayer contributed by the congregation and painted by Covenant College art majors.

It is a start.

Cindy said...

I am not a fan of VBS but it would be the perfect place to start trying some of these things.

amy in peru said...

can i just say that you are the QUEEN of perfect illustrations?! your use of what did you call them, pub thugs?! ahahahahah! that's awesome. and truly, the perfect illustration for your post. i am in awe.

anyway, i just wanted to add, that this same dream was my inspiration for starting the group with the college girls here that i was talking about. i didn't think it would work at first, but as i have repeatedly presented the idea, i think they really do like it... of alternating themes but basically to see if we can't awaken some hidden art amongst them all. i hadn't planned to follow the book, but after all our plan is looking more and more like the table of contents. :) we'll tackle sewing, baking, i'd like to introduce them to art, we're already singing (we're going to work our way through the hymnal) and planning to prepare some songs with parts with them... if i weren't so natrually awkward with all this, it'd be a breeze!! ;)