The older I get, the more I treasure handmade things.
I look around, and those are the things that still touch me—the emblems of love carefully knitted or sewn together, the artwork sometimes curvy and crooked that wears my children’s fingerprints. Every year at Christmas, I hang fabric stockings one of my beautiful aunts pieced and sewed together from fabric she thoughtfully selected with us in mind, a wedding gift still reminding me that she loves me. I have a pillow on my bed that my granny made using scraps of my papa’s neckties after he passed on from this crazy place. Every time I touch it, I feel like I’m touching both of them. I can see his fingers, his hands moving over the ties as he stands in front of a mirror, looking. I can see her fingers holding the needle that pieced them together. I feel her love for me, and still more, her understanding of my love for him. My children still wrap their arms with baby blankets their Oma crocheted in neat, elegant rows, and every winter, we keep warm with hats and scarves my mom has made for us. We walk around feeling like her loving hands rest on our heads. I wash my dishes with dish rags Mom crocheted, and so, we clean together, her fingers wrapped over mine. And I cannot even begin to count all the nourishing, homemade things I’ve consumed, warm and fragrant at just the times when I needed to feel comfort within and without. I wear flip flops that one of my sisters decorated with fabric to look like butterflies resting on the tops of my feet. So, I walk around wearing redemption. I collect beach glass in a pottery bowl another sister shaped and painted and glazed with her fingers, and when I look at it a thousand times passing, I can almost see the focused expression on her face, the look of an artist at work. And everywhere I look, I’ve pinned bits of paper scrolled with the stunning lines of another’s hand, and in the curves, I see the hand holding the pen, their thoughts turned lovingly toward me. The inventory of my treasures stretches far and wide over years, a wealth of love given, love gathered.
This week, we create something special together, a gift for someone we love.
Early morning before breakfast, and we bend together, excited, our many hands dancing over our work. Creativity splashes and blends and spreads, and the art we make glistens with sloppy love. I stand back to look, stunned by the power of our collective offering. I stare down at bits of ourselves left open and bare on the table. The gift is our love all pieced together, the history of relationship, the conversations we’ve shared cherishing him while we work. We settled on handmade because we kept returning to special. He is special. The gift must be special. There’s something special about a creation that bears hints of us all over it, hints of great, beyond words love. In the sweep of color I can still hear the whisper of our words—he’s gonna love this, he’ll love it, he will.
One day into creating, and Zoe says, “I love when we make things together. It’s so much more special.” She, especially, jumps up and down in front of our gift, clasping her hands together, delighted, lit with joy.
And that’s when it hits me, standing there with her, my fingers rainbow-smeared and sticky: We are all handmade things.
Just that morning, we’d discussed this. In the middle of our happy collaboration, she’d rushed away, wiping her hands on a paper towel, to find her journal, to read something to me.
“Mom, aren’t you writing lessons for the ladies about creation?”
“Mmmhmm.” I murmured my assent while twisting a vibrant thread, so intently focused on the color that I felt washing over my cheeks, my forehead.
“Well, I’m reading Genesis right now, a chapter a day, and I read this morning about when God made Adam.”
“Have you gotten to the part where He makes Eve?”
“Yes! Let me read you what I wrote,” she’d said, wiping her hands, turning away toward the stairs.
So, she stands next to me with her journal, pressing the pages flat, turning them so that I can see her handwriting on them, the curve of her personality making art of the page.
“I’ve got, ’what happened—God created the earth and then Adam and He brought the animals, but that didn’t work because Adam still needed someone. So, He takes one of his ribs to make Eve.’ And I’ve got, ‘how that makes me feel,’—and I wrote, ‘It makes me feel special because God worked so hard making a place for us to live, and because He made me too.’ And that I feel like He’s really powerful. And then I wrote, ‘Things I’m thankful for,’ and I said, ‘flowers, trees, and rain.’ I love rain, Mom.”
I stop working and bending and stand to look at her. ”That’s wonderful. Thank you for sharing that with me. I am writing lessons for the ladies about creation. Let me ask you something: Is the way that God made Adam and Eve the same or different from the way He made everything else?”
“Hmmm,” She reaches for me, laying her hand on my arm.
“Let me ask it this way. How did God make the trees, the sun, the animals, all that?”
She smiles and I see wonder sparking, and she says, “He just said, ‘Let there be,’ and it just was.”
“Yes. He’s powerful enough to do that, to just say and it will be. So, how did He make Adam and Eve?”
And this is when she knows, when I see it brighten her face, the understanding that God used His hands to make the man and the woman. ”Well, it says he ’formed Adam’ from the dust, and that He reached into Adam and took out one of his ribs and made Eve because Adam needed someone, because God didn’t want him to be alone.”
“So, why do you suppose God made Adam and Eve with His hands, when He could have just said ‘Let there be?’”
She looks away from me to the art we’ve made, the gift layered with pieces of us, with our love and intention. ”I guess because He wanted them to be special.”
I lean into her, wrapping my arm around her shoulders, feeling the weight of her against me.
“I think so. I think He loves human beings so much that He wants to get His fingers all messy with making us. He wants to touch us. He wants to breathe right into us and leave parts of Himself all over us. He wants to love us right from the beginning, right through the creation.”
And because it’s a moment I can use, I turn her toward me so that she can see my eyes. ”I don’t want you ever to forget how loved you are, how special. You were handmade by God Himself. Genesis says we’re made “in His image (Genesis 1:26),” and that’s because the face of the Artist, the look and feel of Him, is always present in His creation. But I want to read something else to you—” and this is when I turn away and wipe my hands, when I lift up my Bible and flip, my tinted finger sliding over the page.
“You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. …Before a word is on my tongue, LORD, you know it completely. …Where can I go to flee from your Spirit? …For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them (Psalm 139)!”
I look at her and she’s smiling at me, absorbing. I feel this urgently, this need for her to understand. ”You get it, right? You are handmade. You are special. I look at you and I see God, the shape of His hands. You’re His. You know that, right?”
She nods, and in her eyes I see a bright flame. ”Yes. I get it. Don’t worry, Mom. I know. I do. But Mom? Are you going to ask the ladies that question? You know, about the difference between how God made Adam and Eve and the way He made everything else?”
“I think so.”
“Good.” That’s all she says, and then she bends back over our gift, and puts her fingers right in the messy middle of it, leaving bits of herself behind and glinting.
So, maybe she’s right and maybe you need this too, right now?
Don’t.ever.forget how loved, how special you are.
You were handmade, by God himself.
When we look at you, we see the shape of His hands, the collaboration of the Godhead.
There’s something special about a Creation that bears hints of Glory all over it, hints of great, beyond words Love.
In every curve of you, in every sweeping place, we hear the whisper of words—
I love her, I love him, I do.
*Just last night, a dear friend shared this with me and I heard a Spirit whisper. So, I offer it to you too, because the truth is: You are awesome!