Musings…

This post is going to be a tad philisophical, so if you’re not in the mood, well, I promise I will post something more ‘stitchy’ later.

I was reading the Bible this morning (now you get a glimpse of my personal beliefs :-)) and I came across an extraordinary statement. In Philippians 4, the Apostle Paul says: ‘for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”

Of all the attributes of life in this time, it seems that contentment is the most elusive. In our society it seems to be most often defined as fulfillment of our wants. (Not to be confused with needs) If I only get this new job…new house…new car…new significant other…etc, then I’ll be content.

But it is my observation that most often acquistion, or rather ‘over-aquisition’ doesn’t breed contentment, it breeds greed.

Ouch. I don’t like that thought. Especially when it applies to me. But, sadly, my needlework and I are a good case in point. I am stitcher. I have been a stitcher for many years. I have stitched pieces hanging on my walls. I have given gifts of stitches to friends and family I love. And, unfortunately, I am also guilty of the ‘I’m just going to buy this ONE project and it will be enough…I’ll be content.’

I spent some years working in a needlework shop. I loved it. I acquired at cost everything and more I could hope to work in my lifetime. But have I stopped collecting? No.

There are those of you who have seen my ‘stash’ and those of you who have asked about it. Well, in truth, it utterly dwarfs the number of projects I have completed in my life to this point.

I have roughly 1500 patterns, 300 + kits or projects kitted up, I have full collections of DMC, Weeks and Sampler Threads (well except for the newest releases). I have good start on collections in NPI silks and Crescent Colours. I have fabric, canvas, and even framing equipment that fill drawers and spill over onto the floor. I have a punch needle collection, a knitting collection, a rug hooking collection, a quilting collection and a crochet collection (all of these somewhat smaller than my counted thread and needlepoint collections but stash nonetheless).

In short, I could start my own store. And before you ask, I have already culled pieces I no longer like, but the truth of the matter is, I would very much like to stitch everything in my collection. 400 years later…

Still, I want more. Still, I covet other’s acquisitions. Still, I keep buying. New items from market call to me and I think ‘just one more thing, this thing and I’ll be…content’.

Wrong. It doesn’t work that way. Why? Because there’s always ‘one more thing’. Perhaps that’s why Paul never mentions the acquistion of ‘stuff’ as a path to contentment. Not even for stitchers.

The good news is Paul says he has ‘LEARNED’ to be content. That means it’s an acquired skill. It is something I can learn too. And all learning really takes desire, commitment and a wellspring of strength and inspiration. For Paul and for me that wellspring is contained in Paul’s ‘secret to contentment’: ‘For I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.’

So, my Wellspring is here in my spirit and always has been. It’s now time for my part. I need to be open to lessons learned and the work change always requires.

What is it I should focus on? Filling more bins with projects to pass along to posterity? Or on the gift of beauty growing beneath my hands with every stitch I take. Should I focus on the projects I don’t have, or on the linens, silks and patterns that already await me in my studio/office. Should I live in the future or the present? Should I focus my energy on the projects to come or the joy of working with my hands on what is before me? Is investment in ‘more’ when I already have so much good stewardship? Is it even fair to others in my household?

I want to learn to be content in needlework, my avocation, as well as in all of life. In fact, I want to practice gratitude as a way of life. Gratitude for the gifts already given. Gratitude for eyesight, for hands and fingers that work and for a quiet, light-filled room.Gratitude for this aptitude…gift…interest God has placed within my spirit. Gratitude for the grandmother who first gave me a stamped towel, a fist full of floss and, most importantly, took the time to teach. Gratitude for the monetary resources to have a choice of projects and all the high tech light and magnification equipment that allow these middle-aged eyes to see tiny weaves. Gratitude for leisure time. Gratitude for the friends who have blessed my life who I would never have known but for stitching.

Contentment. Gratitude. Joy in the journey. I’m learning. Some days, especially days when I see something new, are a struggle. But I’m learning.

So, am I done buying needlework? Um…no. But I have found that buying isn’t what leads to contentment, it only leads to wanting more…for me that is. I am determined not to miss the point. Contentment, again for me, is to be found in the exercise of God-given gifts and talents, the creation of beauty and gifts of the heart, not a work out for my check book on projects that will only gather dust.
Now comes the disclaimer: This is a statement of my own beliefs, shortcomings and my own journey. This is my area of both joy and challenge. I share it because there is value in lessons learned…so take from it what you will and if something herein  has given offense, please believe it was unintentional.

I love stitching and most of all, I love the people I have have met in the world-wide stitcher’s community. So many of you have touched my life. Thank you!

Blessings,

Julie

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Comments

  • KarenV  On March 8, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Thank you for your insight – that was very interesting reading 🙂 I actually had similar thoughts this week when stitching on a project, feeling that I should just enjoy working with thread and fabric and creating a beautiful piece, however long it takes, rather than casting something aside half-stitched to move on to the next “new thing”. I’ll be revisiting this post – thanks for giving me lots to think about.

  • Cindy  On March 9, 2007 at 2:58 am

    Very profound insight 🙂 I have gone through spells lately where I was happy working on a large project, but felt guilty because I wasn’t “finishing” anything. What am I really doing this for…to enjoy myself or to be in some sort of contest? I think that we all wrestle with these things to some degree. You have put it into words quite nicely 🙂

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