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Crafting Passionate, Deep Relationships That Yield Joy and Wonder

Our eight-year-old granddaughter Grace carries a gene I do not possess - an interest in fashion. She wants to learn to sew.

At the fates allow, Grandma’s friend Jacquie, an excellent seamstress, agrees to show Grace her sewing workshop and some of her amazing creations. Jacquie has tidied up her work space and has a project for them to work on together.

Excitement bubbles.

We each have our reasons.

The motives of Grandma and I are many. The obvious goal is for Grace to learn a basic skill that would both nurture her curiosity and provide a glimpse into the bounty of techniques and textures of creative work with fabric. Fashion is a big and important world. Dare to step beyond even your grandfather’s sense of style. Please. 

Our deeper purpose relates to mentoring. We covet opportunities for all our grandchildren to be in the presence of skilled people who work with passion and integrity. We want them to be both learners and teachers of lives with depth.

We seek skill, character and, dare we say, flair. Like God, we want our children and grandchildren to claim the range of colour and texture of life while being kind, compassionate and responsible. 

Some of our children and grandchildren are not adverse to seeking the centre of whatever stage upon which they may find themselves; others, not so much.

Grace does not utter more than ten words during the 90 minutes of exploration and sewing. 

Another learning opportunity, this time for Grandma.

Even after 30 plus years with me, the ways of the silent and shy leave her uncertain. Grandma’s genes, disposition and family training means she (usually) exhibits excitement vocally and with physical demonstration.

Without judgment, she wonders, “Did Grace enjoy it? I couldn’t tell.”

Afterwards, I text Grace’s mother to ask how Grace experienced the time.

“Loved it!” was the response—Ready for more.

Grace will have to learn some of the communication skills her mother and I had to acquire. Grandma desires to decipher the style of Grace because she wants that relationship to grow.

Growth in relationships involves learning how to read the signals and communicate in ways that make sense to the other.  “What you think you heard is not what I intended to say!”becomes an invitation to strengthen the bond.

The conversation is the relationship

People express and experience love in many ways: acts of service - “what can I do for you today?”, gift-giving, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation. (Double-check default ways of feeling connected with a beloved using this quiz .)

The same holds true in our relationship with God. Unsaid expectations and narratives filter and shape the encounter and can either derail or enhance the connection.

When do you feel most connected to the Divine, to the Sacred? [1]

  • in church, 
  • in heartwarming moments of change and transformation, 
  • in the performance of concrete acts of service, 
  • in working with others to change the world or 
  • In that sense of the wonder and unity in all creation where each particular moment vibrates with a sense of the holy?

Relationships are their own kind of craft, requiring skill, knowledge, language and gesture. 

They also involve self-discovery.

Like Jacquie and others, creatives discover how they will react to failure and mistakes. Those who seek mastery accept actual limitations and obliterate false barriers to learning and growth. They name and claim their gifts and skills, the elements they deem beautiful, the products and processes that bring joy and wonder and whose completion they celebrate without false modesty.

Those times of honing the craft, meeting the challenges, accepting failure and opportunity, desiring beauty, and reaching for excellence are, in an authentic sense, sacramental moments, moments that bear the sacred texture. Their habits and routines become spiritual practices and mark a path to follow for those who seek depth, wholeness and holiness.

1. See Janet Gear’s work on people’s deepest yearnings for and experience of God.

1 Comment

  1. So grateful, Keith, to be on your email list for grounding me in the experience of searching the Mystery of what it means to be fully human…having been captivated by the often quoted Irenaeus that the Glory of God is the human person fully alive.

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