Maggie Oman Shannon is a spiritual director, workshop and retreat facilitator, and the author of several collections of prayers and prayer practices. A graduate of the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, she was ordained as a Unity minister in 2014. She is the senior minister of Unity Spiritual Center of San Francisco and also hosts "Creative Spirit," an hour-long weekly radio show on Unity.fm.
Crafting Love is the third in her series of books on turning crafts into spiritual practices. Crafting Calm (2013) presents "projects and practices for creativity and contemplation." Crafting Gratitude (2014) is about "creating and celebrating our blessings with hands and heart."
A crafter all her life, Oman Shannon remembers her mother's dutiful activities and observes her daughter's wild creativity and concludes that she has learned from them about crafting love — "an exchange that is as old as time, the making of something for another." She wisely adds: "It's hard to think of art, or a craft, being successfully rendered if the creator does not feel a love for something — activity, elements, or audience." She gives us ample examples of all these focuses in this practical paperback, supplementing her own ideas with descriptions of projects from friends.
How can you craft love for your partner, friends, teachers, mentors, or family? How about embroidering a love letter on cloth to give to your spouse? If you enjoy cooking, you can enfold your feelings of love into a dish you prepare; for this project, Oman Shannon includes a list of foods that enhance love, such as arugula, bananas, chocolate, and figs. To supplement her suggestion that you make a friendship bracelet, she lists the properties associated with various gemstones ("Jade is seen as a heart stone, good for all types of love.")
In the section of family love, Oman Shannon reveals one of the secrets of her crafting. She likes to repurpose items that might otherwise be discarded (an old watch becomes the frame for a picture of an ancestor) or so ordinary you might not think of it as a vehicle of love (a pill box is filled with tokens of affection). A tote bag with pockets for photographs or a bracelet with little frames become ways to display pictures of what you love or inspiring words that encourage self-love.
Some of our favorites among Oman Shannon's many project ideas are ones in the chapter on crafting love for places and animals. These include a making a portable shrine to remind yourself of a favorite place, using heart-shaped natural objects in a sculpture or a picture frame, and making an animal medicine bag using symbols of an animal totem. (Mary Ann laughed out loud when she read Oman Shannon's reaction to drawing an animal totem for this project from the Medicine Cards: "Bat? Other women in the class got cute animals, fun animals like Otter. Why did I have to choose Bat?! . . . But Bat started working its magic on me, . . . Bat, I learned, is a powerful totem with deep significance: it signals rebirth, transformation, spiritual initiation." For three years in a row, Mary Ann drew Bat on New Year's Day!)
We could go on and on describing intriguing crafts projects like Kindness Cards, Poetry Eggs, Healing Hats, Goddess Rosaries, and Magic Wands, but we'll stop now and encourage you to get this book yourself. You'll find many very doable projects, no matter how skilled you think you are in this area. And for those who are more inclined to journaling, Oman Shannon provides wonderful "Inner Inquiries for Journaling and Reflection" at the end of her chapters. A very helpful "Resources" section at the end of the book covers websites, magazines, books on creativity, philosophy and culture, creative exercises, healing/therapeutic applications, and techniques/how-to.