Making Crosses by Ellen Moris Prewitt

Prayer Category

Subtitle: “A Creative Connection to God” published by Paraclete Press. Prewitt is a writer who started making crosses after 9-11. This book tells you how to do cross making either as an individual meditative process or with a group. The idea isn’t to make a craft project but rather to interact with God as you’re finding and choosing the materials you’ll use and while you’re in the process of making it.

She says, “When I’m making crosses I open my mind. I let myself be led wherever I need to be led… revelatory places that will tilt the way I currently look at my world… aspects of ourselves we cannot see clearly. We must trust God to take care of us. He knows what things lie outside our limited field of vision.”

Here are some of her “rules.” We are told not to undo something if we don’t like the way it turns out. Instead, add things to it. She says this is the way it works in life – we cannot undo our actions, but rather we can add things to the picture to make them look better. Secondly, we are told not to tear apart any good or new materials. We are to use things we find, things we throw away, things that are broken, again a parable of life and a mirror of how God uses our brokenness. She tells us to begin with the two main cross pieces. She calls the things we add to the cross “adornments.” Make your cross first, then think about what to put on it. And when something doesn’t work, such as when we’re trying to bind together the pieces of the cross structure, we should persevere and view this as part of the process. Also, making crosses should be viewed as a prayerful process where God is directing your decisions. Therefore, if making crosses with a group, silence is required during the activity.

She then tells us to keep our crosses somewhere where others can see them so we can tell the spiritual story of what each part symbolizes to us. If in a group, she tells us to share with each other why we chose the materials we did and what they mean to us. And she often gives away her crosses.

Review: I participated in a cross-making activity on a small weekend retreat using the ideas and principles from the book “Making Crosses” by Ellen Morris Prewitt. Our leader provided a large amount of materials, including glue guns, hammer and nails, wire, twine and a variety of other natural and found materials. I decided to go on a walk to a small lake to find materials for my cross and I took a plastic grocery bag with me for the purpose.

I found some maple seeds that fall to the ground with wings like helicopters and when I started picking them up, I was aware that a man was in the yard next to the road washing his car. I felt very self conscious and tried to duck behind a bush so he wouldn’t wonder what that crazy woman was doing! It came to me that God and I had been working on my tendency to worry about and care about what other people think of me. This insight put me well on my way to having God interact with me about my life through the cross making process.

By the lake as I was thinking about God’s wanting me to help others know him a Scripture came to my mind “I will make you fishers of men” just as I found an old fishing float that was covered with algae. I found some small dusty flat pieces of wood on a roadside for my cross pieces. Then I picked up a fragment of cheap black plastic that came from something electronic, like an old phone or a computer mouse. It wasn’t attractive, but I picked it up because it spoke to me about God calling me to a digital ministry with Prayer Ideas, something for which I wasn’t naturally inclined or gifted.

When I had all of the pieces of my cross together, it symbolized my calling to reach others, my natural people pleasing tendencies I need to overcome and my need for God’s help in a calling that is beyond my capabilities.

I think this would make an excellent activity for any type of group such as on a retreat, or a Bible study or prayer group. It’s always a godsend to find a good “hands on” activity that enables you to interact with God in a prayerful way.


Added by Karen Barber on June 12, 2012