Maggie Oman Shannon is an ordained interfaith and Unity minister, spiritual director, and workshop and retreat facilitator, who currently serves as Senior Minister of Unity Spiritual Center of San Francisco. She is the author of six previous books, including Prayers for Healing, one of our favorite prayer books. She hosts a weekly hour-long radio show on Unity.fm called "Creative Spirit." For Spirituality & Practice, she created the online retreat on "Ways to Pray from Around the World," which is now available on-demand.
Oman Shannon has been a lifelong crafter, and she has long explored the connection between creativity and spirituality. In Crafting Calm: Projects and Practices for Creativity and Contemplation, she demonstrated an ability to seamlessly meld creativity, spiritual practice, devotional activity, and a love of the arts and crafts. With Crafting Gratitude, she turns her attention and intention to concrete ways, as she puts it, to "remember, on a daily basis, the incredible, overflowing, abundant richness of my life. So this book is for both of us."
Here are 40 crafts projects to make thanksgiving a spiritual practice in daily life. Sections cover gratitude for family, friends, and significant others; health; wealth and prosperity; home; vocations and avocations; nature and animals; opportunities and possibilities; and the Divine. Although she mentions in the introduction that the book is not so much a “how to” book as a “why to” book, we (as non-crafters) found her instructions for each project to be clear and helpful. The point is to use our hands to express our hearts, and this does not require prior experience or special talent.
To encourage us, Oman Shannon has interviewed artists, teachers, coaches, consultants, and other facilitators about their gratitude practices. She shares stories about her own projects and what they have meant to her. For example, she made pet memory beads using the colors of a beloved kitty, plus a glass angel, two metal hearts, and a little bell; “Every time I look at them, I remember my little fur child and the joy she gave me, each bead and charm signifying the gratitude I felt and still feel for having experienced such a deep love for a pet.”
After each report, she includes “Inner Inquiries for Journaling and Reflection” for your discernment about whether this project is for you. She has included helpful lists such as the meaning of colors, common symbols of prosperity, common associations for stones and gemstones, and common meanings of herbs. At the end of the book is a superbly curated collection of resources: websites, magazines, and books (including some on specific spiritual practices). She provides contact information for the crafters she has interviewed.
We keep paging through this book looking for projects to try. Here are some already on our list: Mojo Hands, Milagro Strands, Cornucopia of Plenty, Gratitude Bowls, Honey Jars (see excerpt), Pet Memory Beads, Gratitude Rocks, and Blessing Pillows.
Inspiring and empowering, Crafting Gratitude will help you take your thanksgiving to a new, fun, and meaningful level.