Spiritual formation, in the Christian sense, is the process of transformation into the ways of Christ. It is the deep inner working of the Holy Spirit within the heart of the believer. It begins with, results in, and is firmly rooted in love.
This is a new series based on the “fruit of the Spirit,” found in Galatians 5: 22, 23. You can find part 1 here.
Love is the basis for the spiritual fruits. You could say that it is the stem on each fruit that attaches the fruit to the tree; it is the branches, the roots, the entire tree itself.
Galatians 5: 22,23 says: By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
In our scripture, love is included among the fruits, and indeed, love is one of the fruits that shows the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives. However, in order to produce joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, we must be filled with love. Love for God. Love for people. Love for self. Love, as I John 4:7 says, comes from God and it is the evidence that we know God. Love shows the world that we are Christ’s disciples (John 13: 34-35).
Paul describes love in I Corinthians 13: 4 – 8 and several of the fruits are listed in the definition either directly or by description. I have emboldened them; the words in parenthesis are mine:
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude (gentleness, self-control). It does not insist on its own way (generosity, peace); it is not irritable or resentful (gentleness, peace); it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth (joy). It bears all things (patience), believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends …” (faithfulness, generosity, self-control, peace).
So, how does love show up in crafting?
By making things for the people I love …
This would be the first response I would expect from anyone. And this is a true and right response. Making things for the people we love is a good and very natural expression. Whenever I see something or use something that a loved one has made for me I feel loved. When I make something for my husband, children, grandkids, parents and friends I feel love.
Love shows up in how we develop our craft …
People who come to my house and enter through the front door will see the evidence of my love for fiber right away because many of my crochet, spinning, dyeing and now weaving (!) books are in a bookcase that my dad made for me right by my chair. The yarn for my current projects is there and my spinning wheel is nearby. I develop my craft through reading and daily practice. Most of the time this area looks like a rat’s nest so I try to straighten it up a bit each week but it never lasts. This is because I love fiber art and want to spend time doing it. And, I guess I don’t love housework so much.
Love shows up when we share our craft …
When we love something, it is natural to share it with others. Love shows up when we pass on our skill to someone else. This can be done by teaching someone directly; writing and/or blogging about it; participating in groups either online or in person and helping others with what we know, sharing patterns and selling our work.
Love shows up when we make something for someone we do not know …
Yesterday in the news, there was a picture of a little Syrian boy who had been pulled out of the debris of his bombed house. The picture went viral and I think a lot of people were touched by the plight of the boy who was covered in dust and blood. Wouldn’t it have been nice to see a picture of someone handing that boy a handmade toy or blanket just to let him know that someone he didn’t know, cared? It is said that crafters are very generous and there are plenty of organizations that will accept handmade goods for people in need, either for local people or for those around the world. It seems to be a popular subject these days, because in the October 2016 edition of Crochet World, I just read about a Canadian mother who makes dolls for her son’s regiment so the soldiers can hand them out to kids who may have lost everything**. What a neat way to allow God to reach out in love to someone else!
Love shows up when we make something for someone we do not love or who does not love us …
This is weird, I know. Why would I want to make something for that grouchy neighbor or that person who gossips about everyone? Why would I want to make something for that relative that makes everyone miserable? Why would I make something for a prisoner, the homeless person who talks to himself, a drug addict or another less desirable person? Because this is where I think that love truly shows up; where God convinces us and others that God loves everyone. Isn’t this what it is all about?
As Paul writes, there is no law against practicing the fruits of the spirit. There may be rules and guidelines that we need to follow for the other person’s good, but if we truly want to express love, no one will stop us for trying to make the world a better place.
*Fruit of the Holy Spirit, Stained glass window at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, depicting the Fruit of the Holy Spirit along with role models representing them, i.e. the Good Shepherd representing love, an angel holding a scroll of Gloria in excelsis Deo representing joy and Jesus Christ, Job representing longsuffering, Jonathan faith, Ruth gentleness and goodness, Moses meekness, and John the Baptist temperance. Executed by Hardman & Co. in the 1870s.