Thursday, June 02, 2011

Preach One: Take My Yoke...

Saturday Evening at KKQ 2011, Evening Prayer
Psalm 46, Matthew 11:28-30

We learned lots of important things in seminary.  Things like atonement theory and Eucharistic theology and biblical criticism.  Things like centering prayer and Reformation history and ecclesiology.  Things like do whatever the altar guild and the secretary tell you to do.

Indeed, the secretary at the first church I worked in after I was ordained was a wise and gracious woman.  Her first words to me when I stepped into the office were, "As long as you're not perfect, we'll get along just fine."  It was a standard I had no trouble meeting, although the lesson has always been a difficult one for me to learn.

Another important thing I learned in seminary was how to knit.  I had no idea at that time how significant it was that my local yarn shop was Purl Soho, but there I was, purchasing a pair of wooden needles and a skein of colorful wool (it was Noro Kureyon, but again I had no idea how significant it was...the colors just made me giggle).  Through the loop, wrap, bring the needle back, pull the loop off...I repeated the instructions over and over again as I knit my first...strip of knitted fabric.

Of course all this means that in seminary I also learned how to make mistakes.  I added stitches.  I dropped them.  There were holes, and not the on-purpose kind.  The knitting mistakes came quite naturally, actually, and quite frequently.  I still make plenty of knitting mistakes; so many, in fact, that for Christmas a few years ago my then seven-year-old son gave me a book titled How to Fix Knitting Mistakes.  Apparently he had heard one too many uh-oh's, and perhaps saw that time the knitting fly across the room.

Thanks to the book, my mom, and other patient knitters, my still-frequent uh-oh's are more likely to be followed by a fix (instead of flying yarn).  Some mistakes require you to go back one stitch at a time.  Sometimes you have to frog the whole thing.  Sometimes the knitting (and, perhaps, you) just needs a time-out.  Sometimes, and this is the hardest fix of all, you just have to embrace your mistake creative design element and keep knitting.

I've heard a few "uh-oh's" today.  A few "ummm's... " A few sighs.  A few words anxiously spoken to an instructor, "I tried to fix it, but I think I made it worse..."  I've seen stitches picked up and seams ripped out.  I've seen fabrics and threads rearranged and then rearranged again.

Never once, though, have a seen a knitter or quilter here alone in their efforts to heal, restore, renew, redeem, or fix.  At every turn, at every mistake, we have been surrounded by the wisdom, comfort, and encouragement of other crafters who have made the very same mistake we just did.  Apparently, not one of us is perfect, and so we get along just fine.

Again, then, our knitting and quilting is a metaphor for our lives.  Mistakes, problems, and challenges are natural as we go about stitching one day to the next.  We struggle, we get frustrated, we expect perfection, and we push ourselves.  The patterns of life are sometimes tedious, sometimes difficult to read, sometimes demanding skills we have not yet learned.

Never once, though, are we ever alone.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, Jesus says to us.  He is not just beside us - we are yoked to him, so that he shares our burdens and lends us his strength.  You will find rest for your souls, he tells us.  You do not need to be perfect.  Be who you are.  I will help you, and I will make you holy, hole-y-ness, dropped stitches, crooked seams and all.

Where are there hole-y places in your work and in your life?  Where are there holy places?  Where are there spaces created by accident, and where are there things dropped or added with intention?  How does God bless those spaces?

1 comment:

Cathy said...

It is a joy to relive those special spaces at Kanuga and be reminded that even though imperfect, we are enfolded in love. Peace~