Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A dropped stitch...

I started knitting just over a year and a half ago. It was pure accident. I had gone to a knitting ministry meeting a few days after my parish's annual meeting. I needed some simple time with focused people in fellowship with each other and Christ, and I found it with a group of women who had committed their time, skill and energy to serving others by knitting items for the Seamen's Church Institute in Philadelphia. That year, we made over 50 watch caps and 20 scarves, I believe. They are somewhere out there, now, keeping mariners warm on their journeys.

Going to that gathering was a blessing. The coffee was good. The spirit was warm and the humor was bright. I was having a grace-filled and peaceful moment...until one attendee sat me down next to her, pushed some needles into my hands and told me that I was going to learn how to knit.

Some things to remember about learning to knit: the hardest part of getting the hang of it is to learn how to let go of the tension in the knots; also, no matter how attentive you really are to detail, you can't get it right when you are fresh out of the gate. I was frustrated and terrified in moments. My stitches were so tight I couldn't push a needle into them. Also, I watched as a neighbor dropped a stitch and had to go back, back, back to catch it and fix her error.

"What happens when I drop a stitch?" I asked my tutor.

"Don't," was her reply. And so, innocent, I didn't. Well, really, I did; but when I did I just took the whole thing to naught and started over.

That was it...until this morning. I am working on a scarf for the SCI, again, and as my wife and I were watching the morning news I felt the dreaded "fwip" against my needles. I had dropped a stitch. I asked Laura to go get my craft bag with a dp needle and while she was down the hall I tried valiantly to remember how to fix my error as my tutor had showed me over a year ago, "Just in case..."

Slip the needle in, loop it back through your work and mend the void. Simple enough...but good God what a moment of anxiety on the front end.

As I finished, I was reminded of one line from the Baptismal Covenant...."Will you perseverse against evil, and whenever you fall into sin repent and return to the Lord?"

Of course, dropping a stitch is no sin...but turning back in part to a work where there is an intrinsic error did afford me an opportunity to continue to work on the whole garment without having to start over. There's the key to the metaphor.

Repentence does not earn us a "do-over." Instead, it allows us to go back to repair that one thing that threatens the whole fabric. Done over and over again, not only does a humble and contrite life become more facile...the anxiety over one simple error need not shanghai the whole effort.

Here's to dropped stitches.

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