Nicholson Evening At Boothby
We've had good weather in the UK over the past week or so. It's been gardening weather and spring cleaning weather indeed. I passed a happy morning in the garden, not doing anything special, just tidying and pottering and I came inside with a small armful of greenery and forsythia.
I have a table in my living room, a side table which belonged to my great-grandmother, it's the kind of thing you'd find at a car boot sale or a junk shop and pay a fiver for it, but it has a nice colour and shape and I have a lamp, I bought years ago from Habitat, on it and an elaborately carved candlestick I picked up from one of those ethnic/hippy shops you find in posh market towns. I arranged my bits of rosemary and eucalyptus with the sprigs of forsythia and it made me happy to do such simple work. I thanked God for that corner of my living room, the flowers and greenery from the garden, the candlestick and the old table, it looked so pretty even though I'm not such a brilliant florist, and I was suddenly reminded of an Arts and Crafts banner hanging in York Minster. It shows St Hilda and underneath this venerable Northern saint it has the words: "In the Handwork of their Craft is their Prayer."
The gift of creativity is such a fine one, it gives real satisfaction and you don't necessarily have to aim for perfection to enjoy it. In fact, I sometimes think if we do aim for a perfect result the work becomes less satisfying, creativity becomes stultified in Self. That is to say, we become too aware of the faults in the work, to aware of what other may see as a failing in ability, and this awareness curbs the joy we have in the gifts we have been given.
During the middle ages calligraphers would make visual jokes out of their errors, laughing at their mistakes only made their work more beautiful, more human. Their lack of perfection didn't stop their prayer or their handcraft, but only humbled them, in the best possible way.
I shall leave you with what Jospehine Moffett Benton says about perfectionism.
It is in the light touch, in whimsicalities, in a sense of the ridiculous that we best see our littleness, see that we are but a seed that needs to lie dormant in the good, dark earth of God. Recreation provides the change in rhythm that sends us back refreshed to homemaking and service in the community. Those who never unbend and relax, who strain to eagerly fly off into the life of the spirit, miss being rooted and grounded in the love of God. The cross is firmly fixed where we begin to be created anew.