Certain human activities, such as the silent prayers described above, produce no tangible evidence of having been performed. Other undertakings, such as poetry, music, dance, and painting do produce signs and can, at times, speak to universal, collective, human yearnings.
Some cultures give physical form to the endeavor of beadsman-like work. Tibetan and Native American sandpaintings, Voudou veves, and Indian kolams are only a few expressions of this idiom. I suspect that the origins of lacemaking are a related, western version of “the prayer made visible,” especially since lace was often produced in almshouses.
Producing prayers, particularly in the form of visual patterns like lace, is a manifestation of the human desire for order in the universe as a whole and in our lives in particular. Our desire for “beadsman’s work” is parallel to our impulse to recognize patterns in the stars, from the traditional constellations to umbrellas (as seen in “A Beautiful Mind”) and to our delight and fascination with magic and simple mathematical relationships.Beadmens’ Work