by Jeanne Heiberg
As your students participate in this craft and prayer activity, they will see how the yarns, symbolic of the practices that help them unite their life with Jesus and God, keep the vertical (heavenly) and horizontal (earthly) bars of the cross in balance.
The God’s eye, a house blessing common to both Ireland and Mexico, is a cross with the vertical and horizontal pieces held together by colorful threads woven around them. As with all crosses, the horizontal piece represents our relationship and interaction with the world around us.
The other direction of the cross, the vertical piece that holds up the horizontal piece, represents our relationship with God, the Divine in our life.
In the making of God’s eyes, or “Ojos de Dios” in Spanish, the vertical and horizontal pieces of the cross are held in place with colorful yarns/threads. The threads symbolize practices that help keep a balance: prayer; reading Scripture and the stories of the lives of the saints; doing acts of kindness and service; seeing needs and helping others. These “threads” help balance the vertical and horizontal dimensions of life.
Say to the Children
Today we are going to make God’s eyes, the kind of cross often made in Mexico. Mexican people put them in their homes to bless their homes and the people who live there and visit. They know that with the cross, Jesus brought great blessings into all our lives.
Because long ago, people were separated from God and getting into all kinds of troubles and miseries, Jesus came to bring us back into unity with our loving Creator. Through his cross, he opened for us entry into heaven—where there is no more suffering and death, only love, peace, and joy. Even while we are still living on this earth, represented by the horizontal part of the cross (point to the horizontal bar of a cross) we can still experience the goodness of oneness with God and heaven, represented by the vertical bar of the cross (point to the vertical bar of a cross).
Notice that the horizontal bar is supported by the vertical bar. Your life on earth works better—has more purpose, meaning, and happiness—when you allow it to be supported by your relationship with Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, Mary, and all the saints. They will help you solve your problems, fulfill a greater purpose, and make your journey through life more peaceful and full of love and joy. You will still have crosses to bear (Matthew 24-25), but growing in unity with God and Jesus will help you carry them well, just as the vertical (heavenly) bar carries the horizontal (earthly) bar.
As you make your own God’s eyes, you will see how the yarns and threads keep both bars in place with balance. Think of the threads as a symbol of all you do to unite your life with Jesus and God: your daily prayer, your weekly Mass, listening in religion class, seeing the needs around you, being kind and helpful to others. These efforts to grow in God, to live out your Baptism, will make life happier and richer and will fill it with color, beauty, and joy. Like St. Paul, you too will glory in the cross of Jesus (Galatians 6:14). Securing the two sticks together to form a cross can help you think about binding yourself closer to God and his goodness, love, joy, and happiness.
Resurrection—growing in unity with God and our true self, becoming one with our brothers and sisters in Jesus—is so wonderful that words alone can’t express it. We need the arts, the languages of music, dance, visual arts, and symbols such as God’s eyes to express the unconditional love of Jesus and his glorious cross. Think about this as you weave and work your God’s eye.
ACTIVITY: God’s Eye Craft
- straight twigs, sticks, skewers, straws (for the cross, two for each student)
- yarn, cord, ribbon, etc. (for the weaving)
- Option: bells
- Cross two sticks/twigs and tie them together at the center.
- Tie another long piece of yarn to the center and weave it (CLICK HERE to see weave diagram):
over the front, back and behind, and over the front again of stick #1
over the front, back and behind, and over the front again of stick #2
over the front, back and behind, and over the front again of stick #3
over the front, back and behind, and over the front again of stick #4
- Continue this weaving pattern until the yarn reaches near the ends of the sticks/twigs. Push the yarn together so the weave is close, but don’t pull too tight.
- Tie on different colors for contrast.
- Finish with tassels at the four corners if you wish.
Tips: For younger children, put a dab of glue where sticks cross and allow to dry before weaving. Use a wire cutter to clip sharp points off skewers, and garden clippers to cut twigs.
Option: Add small bells with or instead of tassels at the four corners, or add another smaller eye at each of the four corners, as the Huichol fathers did for their children. These might represent all the loving people God sends to watch over us: angels, saints, parents, and all the good people in our lives. You may want to Google “God’s eye crafts” for more illustrations.
Hang finished God’s eyes around the classroom, dangle in windows, or pin up on bulletin boards. Let students take them home to bless homes and families, hang over beds, or sit on prayer tables. First, however, gather them in a basket or on a prayer table for a blessing.
God’s Eye Prayers and Blessing
Place on your prayer table an evergreen sprig and a dish of holy water (unless you prefer to bless by using your hand in the Sign of the Cross); a basket of students’ God’s eyes (or a solid-colored panel of felt to which you can pin each one); a Bible open to the first reading, with the other readings marked. You may want to include a candle, a large cross, a plant (a small palm is timely), a fine art print with a Passiontide theme, and/or a purple cloth.
Opening Song: A Passiontide or Easter song, depending on season, or “O Spirit of the Living Lord” (text: Genevieve Glen, OSB © 1998, 2001, The Benedictine Nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga; music: Ken Canedo © 2007, Ken Canedo; Breaking Bread, OCP)
Leader—Opening Prayer: Loving Creator, thank you for our life on earth with all its possibilities and challenges. Thank you for Jesus, who came to redeem and restore earth and us to your glory. Help us to balance the challenges we meet with increasing awareness of your love. Whenever we look at our God’s eyes, or any cross, help us to remember that you are always ready to help us through all difficulties.
Readings: Psalm 119:18 (open our eyes that we may see); 1 Corinthians 1:18 (the power of the cross); Acts 2:32; 10:39-41 (Jesus was raised up and exalted by God); Matthew 16:24-25 (we take up our crosses to follow Jesus)
Leader—Commentary: Many people see the horizontal beam of the cross as a symbol representing our relationship with the world and other people. They see the vertical beam of the cross as a symbol of our relationship with God. To maintain a balance in both beams, indeed, is the cross! The weaving of these God’s eyes could be seen as your effort to keep a balance in life, to do it with God’s grace, and to know the joy of resurrection and love.
Blessing: Loving Lord, bless these God’s eyes. May they help us to remember the mystery of the cross and the unconditional love we celebrate this Holy Week and Easter. (Bless the God’s eyes with an evergreen sprig and holy water or by making the Sign of the Cross. Also bless the students.) In Jesus’ cross and Resurrection, may we know a happy foretaste of heaven here and now, on earth, and unending joy and life in the world to come.
Closing Song: Lift High the Cross
Jeanne Heiberg is the author of Advent Arts & Christmas Crafts (Paulist Press) and Advent calendars (Creative Communications). She has taught art, writing, creative catechetics, and meditation, and has directed parish catechetical programs. Jeanne writes, paints, and gives writing workshops in upstate New York.
Source: CATECHIST Magazine, March 2010
Copyright 2010, Peter Li, Inc. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in any form without permission, except for use with your classes or families.