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Book Review: Making Crosses

Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God
By Ellen Morris Prewitt
Published 2009 by Paraclete Press

Get out there. Take a walk, find some sticks. A charming new book from Paraclete Press, Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God, by award-winning writer Ellen Morris Prewitt, can change your perspective on the way you interpret everyday things. This book introduces a new type of spiritual discipline: finding and using simple, sometimes discarded, perhaps once-revered, objects and pieces of your life, or objects from the lives of those you love, and prayerfully incorporating them into a cross.

This book is a simple guide for prayerful creativity, especially for non-artists. Because it is not about making art (even though anything we create becomes art), it is about our relationship with God. As we put our hands around the cross, there is nothing between the cross-maker and God. How can we heal a broken relationship? How can we heal our brokenness within? Perhaps by lovingly becoming part of our cross, and developing our story as we go, we might heal our relationship with God. As Prewitt guides the reader into the process, she gently reminds us, "it is not our purpose to make a beautiful cross," but instead the purpose is to lead us into our own theology, how we think about God, and to reflect on where we may need healing.

In Prewitt’s workshops, she says that as we work on a cross, the cross begins to work on us – something I found to be absolutely true. When focusing my attention on finding just the right crosspieces, the fittings and embellishments, or thinking about how to turn the wire, or the colors of paper to add to my cross, my attention is held for longer than I expect on the most minute things. During those moments, I cannot think about what I will be doing the next day, how warm it is outside, the pain in my back, or any of the other stressors in my life. My focus, my centering, is on the act of creating and transforming. What a calming and life-giving experience!

After reading her book, I have re-focused my daily walks so that I pay closer attention to God’s creation, to objects that I pass on my way, or things that may block my path. There is a new purpose to my working in my back yard and picking up sticks and fallen tree bark. Items that I may have once thrown away, or perhaps have passed by as trash, suddenly have new value, new meaning. The other day, I walked my dog beside the railroad tracks close to my home and noticed several large rusty, discarded washers that became nice additions to my outdoor crosses.

Prewitt draws readers into the beauty of God's creation as she encourages us to look for items to incorporate into a cross by first finding two sticks, then finding a way to hold them together, adding adornment, and then telling the story. Each time I begin a rustic cross, I am continually amazed at what God Brings. As Prewitt says, "Trust the one who knows the secrets of our hearts and whose joy it is to give them to us." Ellen Prewitt has certainly brought joy into many lives, and continues to do so, through Making Crosses.

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Rev. Emma F. Connolly is the Deacon at Saint John's Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee, where she does Christian Formation, and facilitates Dream Groups and Creative Writing classes.

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