The Gifted Blog

April 25, 2011

It Makes Room | Why We Make

I write The Gifted Blog because I love to create. I've been reflecting on what it means to be a Christian and to love making things. I hope this series will be a jumping-off point for thoughtful discussion among us, no matter your spiritual background. For the whole series, click here.

One of the pleasures of becoming a mom has been rediscovering the public library. I first went to take N to storytime, but now I'm hooked on this free wealth of knowledge and inspiration. One library book I've been mulling over lately is Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson.

She writes very thoughtfully about the deeper things we can learn from tending a household. In the basic acts of feeding, housing, and clothing others, we help to ensure that life goes on. Peterson notes descriptions of God 'keeping house': creating a place to live, growing a garden good for food, making the first garments for Adam and Eve. There is dignity and meaning in being like God.

One description of making caught my attention in particular:
It is this capacity of handwork to make room for joy, room for grief, room for hope and waiting and process, that makes it so valuable a practice in a world that increasingly has no room for any of these things. Many of us have less and less experience with anything that unfolds over time...But life is not instantaneous. It takes time, and handwork can be a way to weave temporality and process back into our lives. (pg 80)
I experienced this exact phenomenon while sewing today with a customer who has come to sew at the studio a handful of times. In the process of cutting, sewing fabrics, and joining layers together, she told me about a painful life situation.

We absolutely experienced what Peterson writes about - as the sewing project came together, our relationship was created as well. She was comfortable enough to shed a few tears and bring a private matter to light. The sewing made room for grief...and as I offered prayer and tried to sympathize, I hope it made room for encouragement as well.

Peterson also writes:
There are, of course, other ways to join one life with another. Not everyone has to learn to knit or sew or spin. But there is something very real in the connections that are forged in handwork of various kinds, even though industrialization has changed the character of handwork from an art of necessity to an art of choice." (pg 78)
What relationships in your life have been strengthened by making things together? Where has the process of handwork (in any form) created room for joy, grief, or just the opportunity to experience life as a process that takes time?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. And if the book has piqued your interest, I encourage you to check out Keeping House.


  1. I love these ideas and thinking about how everyday acts or chores can have deeper meaning. It definitely happens in the kitchen at our place. I'll be looking for ways that handwork, making and keeping-house makes room for more than meets the eye.

    Thanks for sharing, Charissa!

  2. @Betsy - Thank you so much for your comment! I couldn't do justice to the book in this post but I'm glad that I could convey at least a piece of it that spoke to you. Your household is such a hospitable one that it's not surprising that some good things take place in the kitchen.


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