Maybe the bubble painting my daughter and I are doing this afternoon isn’t suited for a Sunday morning service, but do you think art has a place in worship?
I am definitely a right-brained person. There’s just no denying it. I think in pictures and colors. I like to get messy. I’m not much of a planner, and my idea of organization would drive some left-brainers mad.
When I was in school, I doodled my way through all of my non-art classes. My notebooks contained more drawings and poems than lecture notes, yet I did well in my classes… Though I think it was frustrating for my fellow students who wanted to borrow my notes. In one of my history classes in college, I was assigned to a front row seat. Ahh, the torture! Now, I like history, I just don’t like to listen to someone talk about it. I would much rather see it and touch it… Told ya I’m a right-brainer. One day while in this history class, I was doodling a doodle of my professor. As he was pacing in front of the class, he caught sight of my doodling and stopped lecturing for a moment and stared at my paper. Without saying a word or acknowledging my caricature of him, he went on with his pacing and his lecture. For me, when I’m doodling it helps me to focus and better remember what’s being said.
I’m a fidgeter. My hands constantly want to be doing something. If I’m leading worship at church, I fidget with the mic cord. If I’m singing in the congregation, I fidget with my hands, my scarf, the chair in front of me, my pen, basically anything just to give my hands something to do. During the sermon, I find myself doodling, writing random thoughts, and researching related or unrelated scriptures. If I’m not doing one of those things, I space out. My mind drifts to a billion other things – what happened during the past week, what I have to do this week, the cute guy a couple rows in front of me, so-and-so’s hair or outfit or voice, how so-and-so hurt my feelings, how I’m worried about this other person, dreams and goals I have, basically anything BUT the sermon.
Prayer is another one of the areas I have long struggled with. I can’t for the life of me focus long enough to pray. My mind gets distracted, I get fidgety, or I fall asleep. Even in church, many times I have to keep my eyes open during prayers so I don’t fall asleep! Nothing against those praying, it’s just I can’t focus.
A few years ago, I read a book by Sybil MacBeth called Praying in Color
. For awhile, this book saved my prayer life. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, I stopped doing it this way, and therefore, pretty much stopped praying altogether. I’m just not able to sit still and do nothing but pray, which is why I love the idea of combining prayer with doodling. It helps me to focus on whatever is on my heart to pray about or who I’m praying for. I can use words or not. It just helps me to quiet myself, focus, and listen.
To pray in color, I would write a person’s name or a thought or a name for God, anything, then I would begin sort of mindlessly drawing around it and coloring it in, adding words, etc. I’ve used this same idea with Scripture. I’d write out a verse and draw around it, or I would write the verse as I drew it. The next example is Proverbs 31.
Did you know that it has been proven that doodling improves concentration and memory? Some really smart folks did a study on it. They had group A who listened to a recording and were asked to write the names of the people that were mentioned in the recording. Group B listened to the same recording but were given a piece of paper with shapes on it that they were to color in while writing the names down. Group B had a higher recall of the names than those in Group A. So to my teachers in school that didn’t like me doodling in class, take that!! bahahahaha!
So this morning as I was getting ready for church, I started thinking about the Praying in Color idea again, and I thought about those who I’ve seen paint on stage during a speaker’s sermon or while the worship band is playing, and I thought “I wonder if I could do something like this in church… I wonder what people would think of it.”
I’ve been to a variety of church services. One of the churches I went to in Washington state had a woman in the congregation who would do an interpretative sort of dance in the back of the church during the worship music set. I do believe that there are things that some do that can be extremely distracting in church. For me, those things include the way someone is dressed, those playing with cell phones, the talkers, and babies… not because they might cry, but because they are so darn cute and I want to hold them.
I was seriously considering taking my knitting to church today to knit during the service. Upon further consideration, I think I’ll ask my pastor first if he would be offended by it. Although, the Bible doesn’t restrict a believer from creating something in a worship service. I lead a knitting/crochet group at my church that is knitting hats for children at various places. I think it would be neat to be able to knit some of these hats while in a church service. If I’m mindlessly knitting a hat during the service, I’m not looking around at other people, which restricts how much I’m judging them for whatever reason. It would keep my fingers and my mind somewhat occupied on something tangible so I could focus more on what’s being said. I wonder, though, if people would find it offensive, distracting, or even disrespectful to do so, even if it would help me. I wonder if I would have to sit on the floor in the back of the sanctuary so I’m not seen by those around me, so I’m not a distraction for them.
I decided to do some internet research on this, and the vote is a bit divided. However, I did find a site that offers tips for knitters wanting to knit in church. Some of the tips include things like don’t bring your whole arsenal of knitting supplies, bring small projects (not the massive blanket you’re knitting to yarnbomb the capital building), and keep your project simple, make it something that doesn’t require a lot of counting and pattern. I found one article that I thought was particularly interesting. Here’s a little excerpt from it:
If it is right to fight battles on Sunday, why should it not be right to do helpful and comforting things during church services? It is not inconceivable that a warm stocking would be regarded as far more religious up above than a cold prayer, and that a woolen vest for a soldier of the Lord might be considered in the heavenly court of last resort as more eloquent than many sermons. Nor do we think it could be urged that knitting in church would divert the minds of the congregation from exhortations to piety. Knitting, when fully mastered, becomes largely mechanical, and even beginners could still sing the hymns and listen devoutly to the minister.
This article was published in The Literary Digest on October 20, 1917. Here’s the link to the full article if you’d like to read it. I found the last little bit of it amusing…
“However this may be decided, we enter a protest right here against one thing: no young woman should be permitted to take her young man along and make him hold the yarn for her in church while she winds it up into a ball. That would certainly be demoralizing to the preacher, and it would surely inspire jealous and irreligious thoughts in the minds of girls who had no young men to hold their yarn. We make this point now both in the interest of religious decorum and of feminine friendship and good feeling.”
So if I do decide to knit in church, I just shouldn’t bring a man to hold my yarn for me so I don’t make other women jealous of the hottie I have with me. 😛
What are your thoughts? What would you think about someone knitting or coloring in church? Should that person have to sit out of sight of most of the congregation?
I also think I’m going to have to do an art journal again soon.
Happy Sunday! And here are a few pictures of my afternoon thus far.
We made a cloud in a jar. Last night we made rain in a jar.
Then she decided to fingerpaint. She had paint speckled all over her… and the floor… and the chairs…
…which makes me thankful today that I covered the table 🙂