I bought Caroline a book when she was younger called Hands Can. It rejoices in all the various things hands can do. For instance, "Hands can catch/and hands can throw./Hands can plant seeds in a row." Now Charlotte is enjoying the story of hands.
What drives me and others like me to be creative with our hands? I don't go sledding or cycling because of my innate fear of injuring my hands. I make my living with my hands, of course, and would be financially devastated if I could not transcribe anymore. But the creative things I do with my hands - play the harp and piano, quilt, cross-stitch, sew, bake bread, write - these are the things I would really miss if I sustained a hand injury.
Ed always said that when we lovingly make something with our hands (or minds or both), we are actually "co-creators with God." Out of nothing comes beauty. Out of unorganized ingredients comes form and shape. Things that are useless by themselves (flour or fabric or a harp sitting silent on the floor) are touched and as if by magic, they transform our worlds. Our chosen creative outlets enable us to use our gifts. I believe everyone has gifts, and one of the most important duties for parents and teachers is to help children discover their individual gifts. So many of these gifts can be brought to fruition through the hands.
My sister in Memphis has been deluged with figs from her backyard fig tree. Even after giving some away, she still had too many that would spoil quickly unless she did something. So she decided to make a jar of fig preserves. Never having done anything like that before, she did some research, bought the jars and tops, and brought forth her creation. She burned her hand a little because she didn't have all the proper equipment, and I figured that, by the time it was all said and done, that jar of preserves cost a lot more than the one at the grocery store, but all the same, she actually made a jar of preserves which fed more than her stomach - it fed her spirit. She also enjoys working with her hands doing woodworking.
I can feel a void in my life when I don't take time to be creative. There is nothing like the feeling of the harp strings vibrating under my fingers, or running my hands across a soft quilt, smiling at the designs, remembering when I purchased the fabric, and reminiscing about what was going on in my life when I hand quilted it.
Why do we bother? With our time constraints, why don't we just buy a blanket at Wal-Mart or a jar of preserves at the supermarket? There's just something about that act of co-creation that refreshes our soul. There are other quilts and other preserves, but none exactly like the ones we made. As individuals we are unique, and our creations can be, too.
Ed and I recently read some articles on whether food made with love tastes better. There is general consensus in some groups that when you make something with your hands (especially if you are loving the process), that love flows through your fingers into the product, and indeed it affects the product in an invisible way. Sleeping under a quilt handmade with love brings an unseen comfort that you don't get with a Wal-Mart special. We are more powerful than we ever imagined.
Hands can; they can, indeed!