Related Posts

An Invitation to Make and Share

Reed Fowler

Reed Fowler (they / he) is a textile and mixed-medium artist, writer, and pastor who holds an M.Div. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Kaela’s parents and the congregation made promises to guide and nurture her; yet Kaela was also nurturing us.

On the night he was handed over to the Roman authorities, Jesus shared a meal with his friends. The Twelve named, yes, including the one who betrayed him with a kiss, the one he called beloved, and the one who would deny his name. They shared a meal together, like many nights before, knowing but not wanting to believe that that night was different. They shared stories of healing, of loss, of miracles. Jesus took the bread they shared, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. “This is my body. This bread that you can buy on every corner, make on every fire—this bread that nourishes you is my body. It is for you. Take it and eat. Remember me.” 

When the night was winding down, stars blinking into existence overhead, friends leaning back and into each other, quieting in the darkness, Jesus picked up the cup they had been passing around. He blessed it, as he often did, and said, “This cup is my blood. A new promise, a new covenant, which is given for each of you, and for all of creation. Drink. Remember me. This bread and cup weaves you together, entangles you with God’s creation, binds you together with your ancestors who were, and who are still to come, and who are with us here. Keep loving, keep blessing, keep sharing meals together. Remember me.”1

These words echo in my bones. My bodymind2 remembers each act of communion. A simple meal, a celebratory meal,3 it is an act that connects us, through God’s Spirit, across time and space.

I took communion for the first time on Pride Sunday at a church beside Stonewall in New York City. There were already celebratory crowds gathering outside, and we would join them at the end of the service. There was a small mural of a dove, descending, above the altar. The congregation was small enough that we all gathered in a circle to receive bread and wine.

Even amidst breaks in my memory from trauma and medication, I remember that moment of communion so distinctly in my bodymind. The words—This is my body, this is my blood, given for you. The elements—broken and handed, steadied and sipped. The Spirit—called into that place, called through our breath and our togetherness and our faith and our questions. Connected to creation, to the ancestors, to each other, to God, we were woven together, intertwined. My bodymind remembers, even as my memory holds gaps. 

This is an exploration in weaving—weaving ideas together from textile craft, queer theology, domestic practice, communion, liturgy, and community life. I am pulling threads from the depths of forgetting and from the fire of creativity, longing to make and share and make and share. I hope this longing resonates in the core of your spirit. This is an exploration of relationships among often disparate fields, but most importantly, it is an invitation to make and share our very lives, creative and whole, becoming and beautiful, transformative and sacred. This is an invitation to dwell in the ordinary, honor the handmade, and embrace the imperfections. This is an invitation to embodied creative practice, since we are creative beings made in the image of Creator God. 

An Offering, mixed-medium weaving, Reed Fowler, 2022

If I were to pull out a single connective thread from the fabric of my life, textile craft would be one that stretches back and forward, back and forward. Textiles are a tangible way for me to piece memory together, to piece existence together. I sewed from a young age. When my grandma and aunt, both quilters, learned that I was gluing fabric together to make pouches, they got me a sewing machine I still use to this day. I remember sitting on my basement floor where carpet changed to tile, teaching myself how to use it. I remember my mom’s surprise at how quickly I picked it up.

Then I began knitting. Here, memory blurs—I don’t think I taught myself. I think my grandma taught me. My across-the-dirt-road neighbor was the first in a long line of women who tried (and failed, through no fault of their own) to teach me to crochet. For a decade or so I didn’t knit, but I turned back to it as an anchor, to reground myself in the midst of change. When I moved halfway around the globe for college, I felt unmoored, and, depression flaring, I picked up knitting again.

Four years later, while I was working on a piece of theater I devised for my college thesis, I stayed late in the studio I shared with a few other arts-practice seniors. For some reason, I decided 2:00 a.m. was a good time to start watching Martin Scorsese’s 1988 epic, The Last Temptation of Christ. The film prompted an image that struck me so clearly, so profoundly, that it changed the structure of my thesis and shaped my theology—the image of Christ, kneeling, arms outstretched, not carrying a cross, but carrying a frame loom. In the final piece, titled FEMME, the performers wove a bandage on the loom, which was warped and carried throughout the duration of the show, a bandage which was then cut off and used. The process of making and performing the final piece attempted to explore the question, “Is wounding masculinity removed, transformed, or cemented after its collision with femme embodiments?” and the proposition that a loom can stand analogous to a cross. We defined wounding masculinity as the way that masculinity is often culturally conditioned towards violence, stoicism, and harm in ways that can harm people of all genders, including those who claim masculinity. In the process of collaborative creation, we each brought our own experiences of masculinity and femininity, and all the experiences that resisted an easy binary, and pieced together this exploration of potential transformation. The show became a queer retelling of the stations of the cross, where we used the stations to explore gender, masculinity, and relationship, with the loom at the center. Jesus, a carpenter, an artist, carrying a loom—an instrument of creation and transformation. 

FEMME, performance documentation, Reed Fowler, 2015
ictured: Isabella Peralta, Valentina Vela, and Attilio Rigotti
Photo by James Hosken

Many in my artistic community that year were exploring how objects hold memory, asking, “How do objects change through use, time, and narrative?” A stole passed down from preacher to preacher, for example, holds a different energy than a new stole at the beginning of its journey. There are times when it is important to invoke tradition and continuity and times when it is important to start fresh, making new pathways for memory and meaning through use. The objects we hold, use, pass on, and gift are entwined with our stories woven through actions. Ritual objects are one way we make meaning, pass on memories, and share stories. They weave us together with our ancestors in faith, who were, who are here, and who are still to come. Even when an object used in worship or ritual life is new, the form often echoes with sacred memory or sacramental function. Here, a plate for bread; here, a cup for (fermented) grape juice. 

I deeply value sacramental objects that find their origins in the simple and domestic—such as an everyday plate and cup. The objects we use make theological statements. Just as the vessels in the upper room were specific to the context of Jesus and his friends, the central physical elements of the Christian faith are everyday objects with forms particular to the contexts in which they function. To invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit in ordinary objects, recognizing that she is always there, forms us in incarnational theology. God is at work in these objects, in our lives, and in our domestic and communal spaces. 

 The liturgies many Christians follow on Sunday mornings create ritual space and time set aside for worship, for meaning making, and for remembering. Liturgy creates space to invite the Divine into our lives, noticing and naming the ways that God is present in us, in our community, and in our relationships. It is a practice—practice, here, akin to an art, a skill, or a discipline. Worship is not playing pretend, and it is not a rehearsal. It may be set apart from everyday life, but it is not compartmentalized or separate from, our daily lives. In worship we are practicing ways of being together. Taking the time to practice being together in this way, patterning our lives in relationship with each other and with God, allows us to carry this practice into our lives. This frames worship as a workshop in which we embody a countercultural way of being together that is intentionally disruptive. This is intentionally different from the busyness, the consumerism, and the alienation that the larger social and political structures we live in press upon us. Before anything else, we are God’s beloveds, made in their creative, relational image. Our lives are consecrated for the sacred, and that extends far beyond Sunday mornings. Centering our weekly communal practice around the everyday declares the everyday as sacred, embodied through the cup, the plate, the font, and our lives together.

Depending on your context and faith practices, the objects and essences that evoke a ritual space or a eucharistic space are likely different. Some congregations offer both fermented and non-fermented grape juice. Some congregations offer wafers, a boule, or tortillas. The clothing worn by presiders will vary depending on a whole host of regional, denominational, and personal practices. The objects on the altar or table share common threads but also invoke a large range of hyper-local traditions and histories. For some, communion might be found in sharing a meal with friends or family, and not (just) within the walls of a church. A plate. A cup. A staple grain, and a celebratory drink.4

These forms, at their core, embody making and sharing. At its core, communion is a moment of making and sharing. For Jesus and his community, olives, grapes, and wheat were abundant and domestic. And so there are stories of anointing oil, and of wine and bread. Stories of water and fire.

Before the words This is my body, given for you; this is my blood, shed for you and for all of creation are spoken, the elements need to be brought to the table. And before they can be shared from the table, they need to be made. A staple grain, planted, tended, harvested, ground, packaged, sold, baked. A celebratory drink, grapes planted, tended, harvested, crushed, filtered, aged, packaged, sold, poured. Our communal lives and survival are tied together—we are interdependent creatures, and we are woven together more closely than we can ever really know.

Beehive chalice, ceramic, Reed Fowler, 2018

When I think of the many threads that make up the tapestries of our lives, encompassing infinite emotions, experiences, contexts, and histories that include harm, grief, joy, and connection, I put making and sharing, entwined, at the heart of it all. And we are all invited into those practices of making and sharing. 

Making and sharing, like hosting a family dinner party.
Making and sharing, like a child offering you part of a mud pie.
Making and sharing, like a brief conversation at the grocery store.

We make and we share. We make food, we mold our lives, we take pictures. We tell stories, we give gifts, and we share who we are with each other.

We are artistic beings, made in the image of a God we may call a potter, a weaver, Creator. Each one of us is creative and imaginative. I believe this wholly, and fully, and without exceptions. There is poetry in a grocery list written to nourish a household. There is beauty in a doodle drawn next to meeting notes. There is artistry in making a home, a life that holds meaning and beauty, however we each may define that.

It is undeniable that we live within systems that discourage us from embracing our creativity, imagination, and curiosity. In the United States, though children and youth may be encouraged to make art, few adults are able to keep an art practice that isn’t commercially driven. Systems-as-they-are often do not encourage making for the sake of making, or making for the sake of sharing freely. It’s hard to carve out space for play and creativity when many of us are living paycheck to paycheck with a stagnant minimum wage. I fear this is an intentional move by the systems we live in and the people who contribute to them—that society is designed to suppress our capacity for creativity because our creative potential is powerful—so, so powerful. 

One of the reasons I return again and again to creative practice, striving to make, mend, or tend to something each day, is that creating is an antidote to despair. With all of the intertwined oppressive systems that we each navigate and all the isms we face, from classism to racism to ableism, with all of the scary things we read about each day—climate change, war, violence—it is too easy to fall into despair. 

Creating something new-to-us, or renewed, or reworked, is a way to resist despair. These moments of creative resistance, however small, declare that we are artistic beings who do have the capacity to make different choices for the sake of ourselves and creation. And sharing these moments of creative resistance with each other multiplies them.

Even in the midst of increasing anti-trans and anti-queer violence, I can weave a set of place mats for the LGBTQIA2S+ centered intentional community I live in, making place settings for the meals we share together, protecting the table passed on through generations.

Even in the midst of systemic harm, an ongoing pandemic, and structural refusals to sustain accessibility, we can still practice new ways of being together, creating the conditions we want to live in and that we want our children’s children’s children to live in.

Even in the midst of it all, we can return to God’s table week after week repenting of the ways we are perpetuating harm, letting the body and blood of Christ strengthen us and shape us. We are beloved as we are and as we are becoming in response to God. 

One of the reasons I am drawn to weaving again and again is that the structure of weaving can help us embody a framework for healthy community, in which we can make and share of ourselves and our lives. In weaving, there are the warp threads and the weft threads. The warp threads, or the vertical threads, need to be structural. They need to be strong enough to be put under tension. If you’re weaving on a floor or a table loom, the warp threads need to be resilient enough to be put under tension and released many times over in the weaving process. The warp threads provide support and structure. The weft threads, or horizontal threads, do not need to be structural. This is where you can get extra creative with weaving materials, using things that could never hold the tension of the warp. The weft threads can provide texture and play. The pattern is built on the interplay of the warp and the weft—how the loom is threaded, what threads are raised or lowered each time, the color of the threads, and how tightly the piece is woven.

The edges, or selvedges, represent one of the hardest parts of the weaving process. This is where the threads wrap around each other, forming a boundary between The Weaving and Not The Weaving. It is easy to pull the edges too tightly, narrowing the weaving over time. It is easy to leave the edges too loose, leaving little loops that catch and snag. Setting this boundary in weaving requires a balance between tension and breathing room. The boundaries give the weaving shape and form.

Among other things, much of weaving is an exploration of tension. This is necessary, making the relationship between warp and weft one that means the weaving stays together once it’s cut off of the loom. As a white person who grew up in predominately white spaces, emotional or interpersonal tension is something that feels uncomfortable in my body and is culturally minimized or avoided. In predominately white spaces, there can be a lot of silence, a lot of saying nothing to diffuse tension when it does arise, which has the potential to weaken community and weaken the ability for a community to thrive on the other side of conflict, change, and transformation. Too much tension in a weaving creates an inflexible cloth or causes broken threads. Not enough tension causes the piece to fall apart. I have learned to find the right amount of physical tension for the specific weaving project through experience, mentors, other artists, and experimentation. Along with the process of learning the right amount of physical tension, I find this balance situated in my gut and heart.

Rainbow placemats warped onto a floor loom, Reed Fowler, 2023

Tension and conflict are inevitable when humans gather together. Using weaving as an embodied framework, for me, helps to reframe that tension, pulling me towards transformation through making and sharing. I know I am closer to my favorite self5 when I have an active arts practice. Intertwining threads remind me that we are created for relationship and community. When I carve out time to create, I do that with intention, which helps me be less susceptible to doom/hope scrolling.6 There is a rhythm and pattern, often echoing the seasons, to the needs of my heart. I weave or spin when I want to meditate and pray on interconnection. I knit in anticipation of the winter cold. I sew when my body wants to move around more. In all these cases there is a process to follow. I gather materials, set an intention for the project, take time to make, and share progress, drafts, and results with others in community.

The process of making creates ritual space, and ritual spaces are filled with rhythm and pattern and making and sharing. When considering this definition of ritual space in dialogue with my own queered notions of domesticity and creative work, some practices stand out to me that can translate to liturgy. These are dwelling in the ordinary, honoring the handmade, and embracing the imperfections.

My arts practice lives in the space where ritual life and ordinary life intertwine. The work I make is meant to be worn, washed, and used, softened and shaped over time. We each live abundantly ordinary lives and breathe through finite existences, striving to find and make meaning. Ordinary time makes up the bulk of the liturgical year and includes changing seasons alongside many different kinds of ritual moments—expressions of joy, experiences of grief, celebrations of daily bread, confessions of sin, and proclamations of mystery. The ordinary is overflowing. 

Where in your beautiful, ordinary life are you already making? Can you practice noticing and naming these places and moments as holy and sacred? Like the experience of picking a wildflower, putting together an outfit, making a meal, or trying a new craft. There is something so powerful about making by hand. I define “making by hand” broadly—this could be shaping a lump of clay, using a stylus on a screen, or speaking into the world. Expanding our understanding of what it means to make, honing our skills, and developing a practice all takes time. 

A really common question I get when I share something I’ve made is, “How long did that take?” This question reveals our disconnection as a culture from ourselves as creative beings. We are so used to thinking of our lives in terms of hours of labor instead of the beauty inherent to the process of making. I have worked to disconnect my arts practice from a wage labor framework. For me, a point of making something yourself, by hand, is that it takes time that isn’t often measurable. It takes time to learn, to gather materials and information, and to carve out the time you need to make. This will feel countercultural. We live in urgent times. There are many times we need to act urgently for the sake of justice, and, a false sense of urgency can also further bind us to white supremacy culture. In her 1999 article “White Supremacy Culture,”7 Tema Okun gives a list of characteristics of white supremacy culture that can be observed in organizations. These include perfectionism, a sense of urgency, and either/or thinking. Okun recently wrote a response to her own article titled “White Supremacy Culture—Still Here”8 to address the nuances of the topic and make revisions and responses to concerns in its reception. I find it helpful to think about the ways in which perfectionism and sense of urgency can hinder us in both creative practice and justice work.

We can allow ourselves the spaciousness to develop a new creative practice. One of my favorite quotes about hand making is by Ali Crockett Moore, who writes on her Instagram feed: “Sometimes the point is that it takes time, unmeasured.” Just as we enter kairos time—suspended, nonlinear time—during worship, we enter kairos time when we make.

What would it look like to carve out fifteen minutes a week to work on a project that might take you years? Or to explore a hobby you set down earlier in life that gave you joy, without a productivity goal in mind, listening to your desire to hand make something?

Our creative practice, our worship, and our relationships will never be perfect, just as we will never be perfect. And yet, I often feel a bank of fog rolling in, shrouding me and whispering in my ear that if I’m not perfect, I’m not doing it right. I’m not enough. If my art has a flaw in it, that means I should be ashamed, and not share it. That rolling fog of compulsive perfection is a demonic and idolatrous force, for we are not God. Imperfection is inherent in creative practices—evidence of the hand, testimony that we are not machines. Especially when we’re learning a new, specific craft, it will take time to discover basic proficiency, and we will never reach perfection, and that’s beautiful. We’re learning! We’re playing! We’re trying a new thing! Those dropped stitches, failed flavor combinations, and the words you have stumbled over are signs of vulnerability to embrace. This is how a process of making becomes a process of spiritual formation, as well.

Where can you embrace the imperfections of your creative expression? What can you share with others without apology? Where can you lean into the beginner’s mind9 and try something you’ve been too scared to try because you were worried about failing or running out of time?

A picture of the author’s imperfect and functional studio space, with communal art supplies, an iron, and a hand-decaled spinning wheel in the midst of a project, 2023

There are so many threads that make up the tapestries of our lives, weaving us together, with creation and with God. Making and sharing is at the heart of it all. 

With great joy and curiosity, let the invitation settle into your bodymind. When we make and share, make and share, make and share, we discover God’s abundance in the holy ordinary.

God of All, Potter, Weaver, Creator, 
we call you by many names.
You knit us together before we were born. 
The divine spark we carry comes from you. 
You have made us to make. Help us to carve out time. 
Guide our hearts towards imaginative practices 
that will transform our lives, and, 
ever so slowly, 
the world.

Bless our making, and bless our sharing.
Weave our lives together,
that we might delight in the abundant ordinary-ness of it all. Amen.

Reed Fowler standing beside woven place mats and pottery mug at the “Unraveled: Telling Queer Stories in Cloth” exhibit, Squirrel Haus Arts, 2023


  1. This adaption of the Words of Institution was inspired by the Rev. Toni Castañeda Carrera and ADORE LA, and Rev. Erik Christensen and St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square. 

  2. Bodymind is a term I was first introduced to through the writing of Eli Clare, and encompasses the interrelation of our mental and physical experiences. 

  3. This description of communion originates from Gordon Lathrop. 

  4. This description of communion originates from Gordon Lathrop.

  5. I have been really drawn to the framework of trying to be my favorite self—not my best self, not my perfect self, but my favorite self. To me this includes aligning my words with my actions and living out my values. 

  6. Doom scrolling is when social media scrolling takes you further towards despair (looking for the next crisis), whereas hope scrolling is when social scrolling takes you towards moments of connection and joy. Some of what differentiates the two is your intention when you engage with social media, some is curation/the algorithms. Personally, I find too much scrolling either way to be a less healthy choice than others I can make with my time. 

  7. Tema Okun, “White Supremacy Culture,” 1999,

  8. Okun, “White Supremacy Culture—Still Here,” May, 2021,

  9. Beginner’s mind is a Zen Buddhist concept of our orientation when we are first learning something—when we are a beginner—curious, learning, making mistakes, paying attention to every detail, experiencing the world with wonder and newness.

Naming God at Baptism

Naming God at Baptism

We want to know the name of God. It makes sense that religious people try to ensure that when they address their God in praise or petition, whether during rituals in the assembly or in the personal prayer of their hearts, they are calling on God using the right name. We want to honor the deity of our choice; we wish to stand within a hallowed tradition; we are glad to unite with others of our faith community.

read more
Naming God at Baptism

Why Baptism Matters for the Work of Dismantling Racism

Perhaps my favorite definition of the word sacrament is “the visible sign of an invisible grace.” Coined during the Council of Trent by Augustine of Hippo, the North African theologian on whose theology much of Western Christianity laid its foundations, it remains one of the most used definitions in both the Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant traditions.

read more