For the Rev. Anne Wolf, creativity is a very spiritual attribute. Being artistic is part of her incarnation. “Aesthetic stuff just gets my strings humming,” she says.
True, she sometimes feels a bit guilty about spending time playing with photographs and bits of colored paper to create greeting cards or scrapbook albums. But creating something with joy -- “Doesn’t it honor God?” she asks.
An Episcopal priest, Wolf is spending more time honoring God in this way after leaving a regional ministry in Tennessee last summer. She had spent time at other churches before that -- the cathedral in Hartford, Conn.; a parish in St. Louis; a mission church that she guided to parish status in Tennessee.
But she felt as though her creative side was “languishing.” In July, she took “a leap of faith” and launched a new sort of ministry. Wolfcraft Arts specializes in customized handmade greeting and photo cards as well as Anglican prayer beads.
Wolf’s interest in “paper crafts” grew out of her enthusiasm for making scrapbooks. An avid photographer, she enjoys marrying photos with words in her scrapbook albums. “I love working with color and paper and composition.”
An artistic family
Her skill with page design came naturally; her father’s family published newspapers in urban Cincinnati. “There is a gift for that,” she says. “I was lucky enough to get it.” A maternal grandfather, meanwhile, was a photographer. And her parents handcrafted Christmas cards every year.
With her greeting cards, Wolf hopes to fill a void. Religious cards on the market tend to have limited appeal and address only limited occasions in the spiritual life, she says. Cards with Bible verses might not appeal to non-Christians who nonetheless consider themselves spiritual.
“I’m seeking to bridge a gap, creatively and spiritually,” Wolf says. “I’ve got some plain old fun stuff, too.”
“I collect quotes, and I’ve got a book of favorites that are going to be used on cards,” she explains. Her inventory includes cards with quotations such as “Fill this day with joy”; “Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience”; and “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”
She’s experimenting with colors to create different moods. She’ll also customize cards. So if you see a quote you like on a green card, she says, “and it was for your best friend who hates green, tell me, and I’ll put it on a different background.” Her goal is customer service: listening to what people want and then responding. “A piece of what motivated me to do that,” she says, “is because I see so little of that in the world.”
She plans one line of cards helpful to those experiencing the particular challenges of military life. Raised a Quaker, she has been learning about military life -- and how meaningful receiving cards is to those serving -- from her boyfriend, who spent 16 years in the Army, and his son, now in the Army.
“I get ideas all the time, so it’s a little overwhelming. All the stuff is labor-intensive,” she says. “I do sewing and quilting, too. Who knows if that’ll get worked in somehow.” Wolf also knits prayer shawls. “You pray as you knit,” she says. “I’m Benedictine in that way. Doing is very much a form of prayer.” That includes the work she’s doing with Wolfcraft.
“Most of my prayer is nonverbal,” she says. “In the way that work is prayer, life is also prayer, and thought is prayer. I trust the Spirit to be praying for me. I think this is prayerful work.”
“One person can’t do everything, but one person can do one thing,” she concludes. “I’m trying to do what I can do and do it with joy.”