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Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

I wonder if you remember Madame Defarge, the infamous character created by Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities. I studied this novel at high school and still feel chilled at the image of this woman weaving the names of those French aristocrats condemned to death by the republicans into her knitting and watching with satisfaction as that guillotine comes crashing down on each of them in turn.

Thankfully, I am no Madam Defarge, with her deep-seated desire for revenge against those who had caused her family such grief. Besides, weaving anyone’s names into my knitting would be way beyond my ability! However, from time to time, I do love to sit and knit little garments for our grandchildren. Mostly, this is a pleasant, relaxing pursuit for me—unless I am up to a patterned section. Then I am obliged to count carefully and focus or disaster will strike—at which point I may well moan and wail with some vehemence.

When all is going smoothly knitting-wise, I find there is something very fulfilling about watching a little garment grow beneath my fingers. Eventually, the moment arrives when I knit that last stitch and cut through the wool with a satisfying snip. Yay, I’ve finished! But then I realise I still need to sew this part to that part and complete other jobs like adding buttons—tedious tasks which seem to take so long.

Recently, P1040088however, while completing a little cardigan for our youngest granddaughter, I decided to do something much more positive than griping when I made a mistake or complaining about those final, tedious tasks. No, I did not attempt to weave her name into it. Instead, I decided put my energy into praying for our precious little Maxine as I backstitched those final seams together. Then, as I attached the buttons, pushing my needle through the four holes of each one to form an ‘x’ shape, I pictured that ‘x’ standing not only for my love for Maxine but also for God’s amazing love for her. I prayed she would come to know that love of God for herself and that we would faithfully mirror this to her through all our words and actions. And I prayed she would step into all God has for her in her life and fulfil her unique place in this world with great joy.

It’s so important, don’t you think, to grasp these opportunities to pray in the course of our everyday life? Whether in a quiet, private place or surrounded by people and noise and activity in a very public setting, we can reach out to God in our hearts and minds, even if only for a few conscious moments. Recently, I read a simple but lovely description of prayer in Henri Nouwen’s book, Reaching Out. According to him, prayer is ‘a creative contact with the source of all life’ (p 91). What a privilege to be connected to the Source of All Life every moment of the day!

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul urges us to ‘pray continually’, or to ‘pray all the time’, as Peterson puts it in The Message. May we never forget our loving, Creator God is present, ready and willing to listen, to communicate and to do life with us, wherever we are and whatever we are doing.

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There could be several answers to this question, come to think of it. Both words end in ‘ting’, for starters. And if I remember my parts of speech correctly, both are verbal nouns. As for the activities themselves, both can be accomplished much more easily, I’d say, if one is sitting down. Both also require the use of one’s hands – well usually anyway. And both, in my opinion, require much patience and perseverance.

Now I put knitting aside several years ago. I knew if I began another project, I would get ‘hooked’ and those novels I hoped to write would never be finished. Recently, however, a family member suggested I might like to start knitting again and in a weak moment, I acquiesced. I blithely chose a beautiful pattern and bought some wool, but after reading the instructions more closely, decided I should be more realistic. It would probably take me several years to complete what I had chosen, so I lowered my sights and selected a different one.

But then the fun began. I tried the first four rows several times without success – the lacy pattern was beyond me. Backwards and forwards I went, knitting a few rows, undoing them all and trying again. Eventually I worked out what the instructions actually meant and then I was off – at least for a while. But careless mistakes began occurring – and I soon lost count of the number of times I knitted several rows, only to pull them undone yet again.

And here is where the similarity between writing and knitting kicked in for me. There was something incredibly familiar about this moving forward and retreating, this creating and undoing. Six novels further down the track in my writing journey, this ebb and flow has become almost inevitable, something that is par for the course. When I first began writing, I could not handle the idea of throwing out large chunks of the masterpiece I had created and sweated over. Yet over time, I learnt it did not kill me to delete my pearls of wisdom. In fact, I came to see it often led to discovering even greater treasures than pearls.

So for me, both knitting and writing require large dollops of patience and perseverance. And last night, as I unravelled several rows of my knitting yet again, I was reminded that this is how God is constantly called on to deal with me. I forge ahead – and God is there beside me, guiding and encouraging. I mess up – and God is there, challenging me and comforting me. I go backwards, forgetting where I’m heading and losing the way – and God is there again, urging me on and strengthening me to run the race. As Psalm 103 reminds us:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. … As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

Yes, I will no doubt continue to make mistakes – and God, the author of all things, who knit me together even before I was born (Psalm 139), will graciously edit them out and patiently unpick them, as I allow him to.

And for that I will be forever grateful.

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Tapestry--Eric WardropLast week I was blown away when I answered my doorbell one day to be handed a cylinder that I soon discovered contained a very special gift – the exquisitely worked tapestry pictured here.

This gift is special for several reasons.  Firstly, it came from a cousin, with thanks for my novels and in recognition of the time and effort I put into writing them.  Secondly, the tapestry is beautifully done and must have taken hours and hours to complete – just as my novels do.  Thirdly, it was accompanied by a monetary gift to cover the cost of having the tapestry well framed. Fourthly, my cousin could not have known that I am currently in the process of redecorating our daughter’s old bedroom and fitting it out as my study – a place of my own in which to write and where I can have beautiful things around me such as this tapestry to uplift my spirit.  Fifthly, my cousin could also not have known that I had just finished preparing a talk that included a quote from the writer Madeleine L’Engle on the place of listening in both writing and praying – nor that I already have a framed card near where I now write, featuring another Emerson quotation that says:

To accomplish excellence or anything outstanding, you must listen to that whisper which is heard by you alone.

How could the grace of God not touch my heart through all of this?  Surely the kindness and care and effort behind the gift itself, as well as its appropriateness and even the timing of its arrival, have all the hallmarks of a God who gives lavishly and lovingly?  Yet it’s more than this too.  As I admired the creativity displayed in my beautiful gift, I thought again of how this in itself speaks of God, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, who chose to impart something of this creativity to each one of us, children made in his image (Genesis 1:27).  All of us seem to long to be creative in some shape or form, whether it be via tapestry, painting, writing, gardening, knitting, designing, baking – the list is endless.  And for many of us, the desire, whether conscious or subconscious, to mirror something of our Creator to the world is very strong.  Recently a friend told me of a relative’s passion for photography, of recording as faithfully and as artistically as he can the incredible beauty of our own land in a way that will open our hearts afresh in praise to God.  And after perusing his website and being spellbound, I believe he achieves exactly that (see www.davidstowe.com.au).

So how about you?  Look around!  See and marvel at the work of our Creator, both in nature and through those made in his image!  And listen too, to that whisper of God that may well stir your own creative spirit to fashion something that will bless others in ways you might never imagine!

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