For more than 15 years, Maggie Oman Shannon has explored cross-cultural forms of prayer and spiritual practice through her work as an interfaith minister, spiritual director, workshop and retreat leader, writer and blogger. She offers creative tools, resources, and guidance for walking the modern contemplative path. She currently serves as the Spiritual Director of Unity Spiritual Center of San Francisco. She also led a Spirituality & Practice online retreat on "Ways to Pray from Around the World," which is now available on-demand. Visit her website at www.maggieomanshannon.com and follow her on Pinterest and Facebook.
Oman Shannon has published two marvelous collections of prayers — Prayers for Healing and Prayers for Hope and Comfort — and other books on creative ways to understand and establish our connection with Spirit — The Way We Pray: Prayer Practices from Around the World; A String and a Prayer: How to Make and Use Prayer Beads and One God, Shared Hope. Her new book, Crafting Calm, falls in the second category.
One of Oman Shannon's special talents is the ability to seamlessly meld creativity, spiritual practice, devotional activity, and a love of the arts and crafts. In this exceptionally fine book, she quotes art teacher Shaun McNiff:
"Just as the religious person makes time for prayer during the day, the creative person makes time for expression. . . . Art as spiritual exercise suggests that any person can find a way to make time for the creative act each day."
Oman Shannon believes we are all creations of a Creator and have been graced with creativity. In her case, projects are ways to commune with or be a vehicle of the Divine. Her embrace of this path was catalyzed when her spiritual director observed, "You have a gift for seeing ways to create spiritual practices out of ordinary things." Now her home office/studio is full of things she has collected for spiritually oriented crafts: beads, mint boxes, bits of ribbon. Over the last decade, she has helped workshop participants make prayer beads, love boxes, pastel mandalas, tiny shrines, blessing baskets, and much more. As theologian Mary Daly put it: "It is the creative potential itself in people that is the image of God." We agree with that and would add that we are all co-creators with the Holy One, fashioning an evolving world with our spiritual projects and practices.
This book is organized into eight chapters that speak to different intentions one can hold when creating: crafting for calm, clarity, comfort, contemplation, creation, community, connection with others, and connection with Spirit. For added value, Shannon has included lists of resources for certain crafts, ideas for particular projects, and questions for journaling and reflection in preparation for a project. We also were pleased to see the variety of inspiring quotations that spice up the proceedings.
Here are some of our favorite projects and practices of the 40 covered in the paperback:
- Annointing Oils
- Sacred Bath Salts
- Personal Prayer Flags
- Prayer Cards
- Power Pouches
- Prayer Stones
- Prayer Cards
- Portable Shrines
- Spiritual Toolboxes
- Personal Holy Books
Maggie Oman Shannon is an enthusiastic guide through all these project possibilities. She often shares about her personal attempts with different crafts, openly admitting that some things are just not for her. We were relieved by this . . . and encouraged to try some new things anyway!
Crafting Calm is a practical resource we're sure you will enjoy dipping into when you feel inspired or are looking for inspiration. Here are some great ways to expand your repertoire of spiritual practices while discovering fresh ways to express your God-given creativity.