Worship at Old Stone Well Farm

Have you ever heard yourself say “someday I will …”

Take piano lessons.

Learn how to paint.

Master a new language.

Someday …

Today that someday has arrived. If these last few weeks have taught as anything it is the truth that we are not promised forever. So why put off doing the things that give us joy?

I share with you a recent passion of mine that has given me peace and that has provided me with that sacred space for grace that I just couldn’t seem to find.

I have always been fascinated with all things relating to 18th century America — from the architecture of the houses to open hearth cooking techniques to the clothing that was worn.

Recently, I reconnected with my younger self, the self that loved the history of fashion. I began researching what the clothing worn in the 18th century told the world about a person, their status in life, the role they played in society, their ancestral heritage, etc. I also began exploring the fabric available and dyes that were used as well as the actual piecing of the garment, which included stitching techniques I had never heard of before.

And so I began the challenging project of constructing an English round gown (circa 1760-70’s) using a period correct pattern that involves draping the gown on the actual person, and then stitched by hand. Now, being that I am not an expert seamstress, this project has been difficult at times. I have ripped out the stitches of the sleeve four times before finally mastering the right amount of gathering at the shoulder. The gown you see in this video is a prototype. I figured I should to a trial run first.

As you join me for this reflection, I invite you to think about that someday project you thought you didn’t have time for or which might have seemed ridiculous, um, like this gown I am making. I mean, really now, where will I ever wear this 18th century dress?

Still, this project has brought back memories of my mom who, when I  pouted because she didn’t buy that Barbie doll wedding dress I wanted because it was too pricey for the flimsy garment that it actually was, gave me a needle, thread and material and encourage me to design my own dress for the doll. It was that moment I felt this amazing sense of accomplishment.

This project has brought me back to the who God made me to be. It has made me realize there is more to this life that we are not living. Isn’t it time to live? To dream again? To create?

I hope you enjoy this time together.

Drop me a note. I would love to hear what someday projects you are making into today projects.







Our Shakespeare Moment

I couldn’t get out of bed this morning. It wasn’t because I was just so comfortable that I wanted to remain put a bit longer. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to disturb my two cats who found their way upstairs and decided to purr contently in the mess of blankets that I burrowed into more deeply on this chilly spring morning. It wasn’t because I really needed the extra rest. It wasn’t any of this. shakespeare-books
I couldn’t get out of bed this morning because I was scared of the news this day would bring. I was feeling helpless that I couldn’t do anything for others in this time of pandemic, except isolate myself from them. And, I was feeling a deep mourning that I never expected to feel. I was mourning the loss of my creativity.
Since the virus known as COVID-19 entered our lives, I have not been able to concentrate on reading, praying and worst of all, writing. And I feel lost. Words have always been my closet friends — there for me when I grieved, when I rejoiced, when I needed to vent, when I needed to speak up for justice, to get a point across or to comfort others. But now my “friends” have decided to social distance themselves from me.
This should be my moment to shine, shouldn’t it? To be a voice of hope and faith — of certainty in God’s goodness — in this time of uncertainty. It has been said that during times of crisis in history — even plagues— that great literary works have been written and songs composed. Artists were changed by the crisis — moved, touched and ultimately inspired.
Take for example, William Shakespeare.
At the end of the 16th century, a plague forced the closing of all theaters in London, similar to the lights currently going black on New York’s Broadway. Not being able to produce plays, Shakespeare turned to poetry. When theaters reopened, Shakespeare was back to writing his plays. But in the summer of 1606, at the very height of a successful theatrical season that included productions of King Lear and Macbeth, the flag was lowered at the Globe theater. The doors were locked. London was locking down as the plague had returned. It was a devastating time of uncertainty — and of death. Yet, Shakespeare biographers purport that this time shaped the future writings of this great literary genius in amazing ways. The death, the devastation, the darkness deepened his views of the world around him, added richness to his words.
I wonder, is this our time to be changed — to go deeper than we have ever gone before in how we understand the world, humanity, life, love and death? Is this time of social uprooting due to a virus named COVID-19 not just a temporary inconvenience, but a time to plant new roots in richer soil? To not be afraid to change direction and to go from plays to poetry; from traditional Sunday worship to video devotionals; to go from what we thought we should do to what we always dreamt of doing?
Could it be that our change in our daily routines — not being able to go to the office, or the gym or church as we once did — is pointing us to a new life that is less busy and less stressed?
Is this the much needed, and long overdue, moment to have our priorities called into question? Did we get fooled into a sense of security because our financial portfolios were doing well? Did we really understand the problems in our society what were kept in the shadows of our own contentment, our own needs, our own wants?
Perhaps this is our Shakespeare moment in which we have been invited to finally see the world for what it is — broken, hurting and unjust for many. Perhaps this is our Shakespeare moment not necessarily to have our creativity soar to new heights so that our words and ideas take centerstage for worldly accolades, but to step back and allow death, devastation and darkness the opportunity to deepen our worldview, our faith, our lives — no matter how painful or uncomfortable that will be.
Perhaps this is our Shakespeare moment in which when this crisis passes — and it will — a new richness will bless our lives. Richness beyond material things. Richness of resiliency. Richness of rest. Richness of rejoicing. Richness that comes when we lean fearlessly into the words spoken at the start of the Lenten season that from dust we come and to dust we return.
I couldn’t get out of bed this morning. I was feeling overwhelmed. My inner Shakespeare just didn’t want to pick up the quill to write. And that’s okay. This is not a time to shine. This is a time to ponder, a time to pray, a time to prepare for the great works that are to come from a crisis that is changing my heart — and yours.

Donna Frischknecht is editor of Presbyterians Today magazine. She is also a part-time rural pastor serving a congregation in upstate New York on the border of Vermont.