Friday, June 18, 2010

I do still preach...

In fact, this blog originally began as a place to save my sermons against the possibility of my computer literally melting inside.  Which it did.  Twice.

Back then, my sermons were the most important things saved on my computer.  I labored hours and hours on each one, delivered them in congregations I deeply cared for, and rather than dismissing them at "thanks be to God" I wanted to hold on to them like photographs of a growing vocation, snapshots of an evolving priesthood.

Surely you backed up, you say.  Surely, I should have.  And as surely as I didn't, I lost many of my early sermons somewhere inside those two melted laptops.  Surely you began backing up then, you say.  Surely, I should have.  But blogging was taking root and growing and evolving, and I thought that saving my sermons to a blog would be a way not only for me to archive them but, if I were ever bold enough, to easily share them with others beyond the pews of my own parish.

Some of the first blogs I read were knitting blogs, and I as much as I enjoyed seeing the yarns and patterns and projects displayed in them, I was also amazed by the writing.  It seems that knitting and writing go hand in hand, as Christian journalist and activist Dorothy Day wrote, "Knitting is very conducive to thought.  It is nice to knit a while, put down the needles, write a while, then take up the sock again."

Writing and knitting are very similar, at least in my experience.  When I'm writing a sermon it feels very much like choosing threads and patterns and weaving together something that can be worn as comfort or as adornment (like a sock or a scarf), or something that can carry or contain a piece of life (like a bag), or something that can be useful in tending to life's needs (like a wash cloth or a blanket).  The stories of our faith traditions and the stories of our lives are closely knit.

Sometimes my sermons come unraveled, just like life and even faith can.  Knitting has helped me imagine that a garbled pile of words and images, like a garbled pile of yarn, can be picked up again and knit more tightly or perhaps more loosely, combined with another thread, or placed in a pattern more suited to its color and texture and drape.  Sometimes sermons flow onto the page (or the computer screen) with ease, like garter stitch, and speak through their simplicity.  Other times they are a challenge and must be woven together slowly and deliberately, every word carefully placed like stitches in a lace shawl, to create a text that speaks to the complexity and mystery of God.

Lately, my sermons have felt more garbled than graceful, and I haven't posted them.  But I snuck one in just before this post, and perhaps will return to sharing them from time to time as photographs and snapshots not only of my vocation and priesthood but also as echoes of how knitting, picking up threads and creating out of them garments and gifts, has woven its way into my life and faith.

Artwork: Photo of my desk at home (a little straightened up for my dear readers); "Trio," by Marilyn Green.


Julie Nolte Owen said...

Amen. I love your writing (and knitting), Jennifer-- sermons, blog posts, whatever. Thank you for sharing it all with us through your blog!

Wool Free and Lovin' Knit said...

Beautifully written -- love that quote by Doris Day but so much of what you've written here is quotable too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!