Mission: Methodical

10417658_10152346528702175_2566990752977945619_nOctober is the sweetest month, with days so perfect that my heart can’t help but sing. For the past five years, my October has been even better because in the second weekend of the month I’ve attended a retreat for women. It’s not the typical quiet retreat. It’s a retreat for spirituality and creativity.
One of my favorite aspects of the weekend is the Art Room — a room chock full of material, lace, needles and thread, felt, old stamps, sequins, wallpaper samples, hot glue guns and anything other item someone may have wanted once upon a time for a craft, that may or may not have ever happened.
Among other planned programming, the retreat encourages every participant to spend as much time in the Art Room as she wants. Everyone is welcome to make whatever she would like — or nothing. Each year, the organizers also encourage each participant to try her hand at one particular piece.
This year’s suggested piece was a small, nondescript gray drawstring bag. We were encouraged to decorate it in any way we wanted and create a prayer bag, to place names or issues of prayer. Sometimes, I’ve resisted the annual project and preferred to do my own thing. This year, I decided to dive into the project with my whole heart and do my best to create something beautiful.
I have an inexplicable love for buttons, and the Art Room had several cigar boxes full of buttons. I decided to see if I could find enough buttons of enough colors to create a graduated spectrum to cover the soon-to-be prayer bag.
Roy G Biv is my friend. I started looking for red buttons, worked my way to orange, then yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Having the time and space to sit and pick up button after button to find just the right shade was a thing of beauty, in and of itself. Sitting there surrounded by gracious women, who took as much joy in my buttons as I did (or at least seemed to) and eager to help me find another orange or green button, was also a joy.
Once I had all my buttons selected and carefully in place on my bag, I picked it up and slid them off into a pile. The women around me were crestfallen. They couldn’t believe I had abandoned the project. I explained that the buttons had to come off for me to begin the process of sewing each one on. Several of them looked at me in disbelief.
“You’re going to sew all of those buttons on?” one asked.
“Aren’t you going to hot glue them in place?” asked another.
And there was a chorus of consent for this idea.
Certainly, hot gluing 142 buttons in place makes for a more efficient idea, but one yielding results that aren’t nearly as elegant. Plus, I’ve metaphorically hot glued a whole lot in my life. I’ve avoided the tedium of doing the same task over and over, in favor of efficiency.
I’m not trying to reinvent who I am. However, I am trying to create a better version of myself. For a variety of reasons, I decided that committing myself to a mass button sewing project was one way to reinforce the new discipline I’m trying to cultivate in myself.
Certainly, I couldn’t have found a more encouraging environment to do so. With every button I sewed, graduating from one color of the rainbow to the next, women would share their admiration for my simple little project. Once I finished the yellow buttons and started on the green band, I was sitting at a table with two other women. I said, “Ladies, I really need a few more green buttons.”
One of them looked up and said, “Well, I’ve got a bag full of buttons in the trunk of my car, sorted by color.”
“Now you tell me!” I exclaimed as she and I made our way to her car. The first basket of buttons I pulled was full of green buttons. My friend was happy to share.
Ask, and ye shall receive.
Just as the weekend was ending, I sewed on my last violet button, and my button rainbow was complete. The process of this simple project provided immense satisfaction, and what better metaphor to adorn a prayer bag than a rainbow?

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2 thoughts on “Mission: Methodical”

  1. I loved your bag when I saw it on Facebook but now understand more its significance and meaning. The method of sewing all the buttons on and using the rainbow as a symbol is so spiritual. I also think your site is beautiful. Don’t you love how we come to more peace as we grow older. I am becoming more meditative and grateful for small things.

  2. Thanks, Margaret, for your kind words. You are so right about finding peace in time — such a beautiful thing!

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