Monday, March 2, 2009

Our 19th Century Evening

No, we weren't snowed in and we didn't lose power. But our Sunday evening felt very 19th century anyway.

My spouse got some new music and wanted to practice his violin. When he's practicing, I find it hard to concentrate on anything that takes much brain power, like reading or writing. So, I got started on a project that doesn't require too much brainpower.

We go to a creativity/spirituality retreat at Lutheridge each year (go here to read more at the Lutheridge website, and here to read more at my theology blog), and this year, we're trying something different with our closing labyrinth ceremony. On strips of cloth, people will write the names of people and events that have been important to them, and we'll braid the strips together. Eventually, we'll have a long braid, which we'll coil into a labyrinth shape.

Someone figured out that we need about 2500 feet of braid, and that we'd need to have some of the braid already created. So, those of us with cloth and time have been invited to braid in advance.

Last night, as my husband played his violin, I cut strips of cloth and braided them into ropes. At the end of the evening, I had about 24 feet. So, yes, we're wise to be working in advance.

It made me think of my younger years, in undergraduate school, where I thought that art should have function. So, I would quilt, because a quilt keeps us warm at night, but I wouldn't paint a canvas, because who needed art for the walls.

I've changed my thinking since then.

At one point, I'd have thought about braiding scraps into coils of rag rugs--how very practical. One of those many projects I never got around to doing. Last night's braiding didn't make me anxious to try it, either. It's a kind of annoying thing. All the strips get tangled, and my arms got sore from trying to keep strips from tangling.

Interestingly, my undergraduate aesthetics did allow for the practice of poetry. I saw poetry as a way to change the world (how very 19th century of me!), and therefore, a functional art form.

As I cut and braided, I thought about how few people create their own art anymore. We download our music, instead of creating it, and we watch television, instead of creating our own dramas on paper or film. We go out to dinner, instead of cooking, and we buy art for the walls, instead of painting a canvas ourselves.

My 19 year old self was wrong in her thinking about creative pursuits, as she was about so many subject areas. Even if we create displeasing art, there's value in doing it, especially in these days when so few people are in touch with their creative sides.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I love the idea of the braids! Please put my name on one of your strips!!!

Anonymous said...

Oops. Make that please put ELIZABETH on one of your strips!