Sometimes there’s a silver lining where you wouldn’t expect it.
Sometimes there’s a silver lining where you wouldn’t expect it.
It is coming.
One of my offerings for the SPRING issue of Seasoned with Peace is this knitted log cabin tutorial. It is also a guided prayer meditation, a way to pray without ceasing. Below is my essay as it appears in Seasoned with Peace, along with more detailed instructions as promised there. Click on the links for some of the knitting how-to’s.
Piecing for Peace — a knitted log cabin prayer tutorial
“When I was in high school a sixth grade boy named Luke taught me how to knit. From the beginning, I found knitting to be a soothing, meditative exercise. As I knit a project or a gift, I become increasingly calm and centered. When done intentionally and prayerfully, the act of knitting can also bring peace and wholeness to others and to the world around us.
The ‘Knitted Log Cabin’ project is in the spirit of “Gathering up the Fragments” from the More with Less cookbook, using leftover yarn from other projects, and can be used for anything from dishcloths and potholders, to afghans, lap blankets or even scarves. I love the beauty of pieced quilts, so when I first saw a knitted log cabin square on Purl Bee’s website, I fell in love (http://www.purlbee.com/log-cabin-washcloths/).
The technical aspects of this project are not that important. What is important is your intention and attention. When sitting down to knit, you must first intend it as a time of prayer. Take a moment to say a prayer of dedication for this time. Secondly, keep your attention on what you’re doing. You don’t always have to be “saying” something to God, just holding the prayer in your heart as you pay very close attention to your stitching. When other thoughts come up (and they surely will), gently and without judgment, return your attention to your knitting and your prayer. In this way, we can pray without ceasing.
Start by knitting a small square. Try to make it as equal on all sides as possible, as this will be the foundation for the whole log cabin block. Using all the same weight of yarn will help the finished block remain even, and allow for easier piecing with other finished blocks. Bind off the square except for the last stitch. Cut the yarn leaving a 4-6” tail. I know real knitters never tie knots. So if you are a real knitter, do whatever it is you do when changing colors. The rest of us can tie a new color to the old color with a knot.
With the new color, pick up stitches along the side of the square and knit rows until desired thickness. Keep track of how many rows this is so that all your ‘logs’ are the same. You’ll soon get the feel for it and won’t need to count anymore. No matter how thick your ‘logs’ are, after picking up the stitches, knit an odd number of rows, then bind off.
Again, leave one stitch at the end of the row that you are binding off, snip the yarn, attach a new color, and now you will be picking up stitches with the new color along the bottom edge of your original square. Continue, knitting straight across the ends of ‘logs’, knitting your block as large or small as you like. When you finish, count up the ‘logs’ starting in the center to be sure you have the same number on each side. I weave in the ends on the backside as I finish each block so that it is not an overwhelming task at the end.
Here are some ideas for implementing this project:
Engaging in any act in an attitude of prayer grounds us in the immediacy of God’s presence. Knitting in particular is an activity whereby a long, wound-up ball of yarn is slowly transformed into something whole and beautiful, bringing peace to the world one stitch at a time.”
I’ve been thinking about this tree for months. The first time I saw it I was shocked and horrified, and yet, I found something beautiful and inspiring about it as well. It has part of a barbed wire fence running right through the middle of its trunk.
There’s a spot on one side of a pond that I like to walk around where there is a barbed wire fence. The trees that grow along it remind me of the Ents who go to war against Isengard and the machine of industry, marching on the front lines to their “doom”. There is even one tree that seems to have actually broken part of the barbed wire, but still has it hanging out the other side.
For a long time I thought about the way that barb entered right into the heart of that tree: slowly, dully, imperceptibly. And then one day it’s just there, it’s part of the tree. Like so many of the wounds that we carry around, they’re just there, and we wonder in vain where they came from.
I wanted so badly for those trees to be whole. I had the urge to yank that barbed wire right out, to tug at it with all my might. In my frenzy, I could imagine even chiseling at the tree itself, performing a sort of hack-job surgery.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized that any effort to relieve the tree of those barbs would surely kill it. It had learned to grow around and live with the barbs that had intruded on its life. And it still sprouted branches and leaves and for all the world was still doing exactly what it should, still able to be a tree in all its tree-ness.
(My friend Erin and I paid a visit to these trees the other day. For another perspective – and a profound one at that – read her blog post here.)
Yesterday morning I cleaned a winter’s-worth of leaves off of our balcony. Four bags full. I seriously wondered whether if I had planted some seeds in the layer of ‘mulch’ that had accumulated, we could have had an 8′ x 8′ third floor garden.
This month, my article in PeaceSigns is about gardening — specifically, what could happen if a neighborhood worked together to produce not only food, but life together. Here’s an excerpt:
This is the time of year when my thoughts inevitably turn to gardening and I find myself daydreaming about digging in the dirt, and planting seeds, and how wonderful a warm, just-picked, sun-ripened tomato tastes. I feel spring stirring in my soul while frost is yet on the ground. When this happens, I pull out my copy of The Wind in the Willows and look in on Mole, inside cleaning while, “Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.”
I thought I saw a butterfly today.
But even if I didn’t,
And it was only my imagination,
It is enough to remember that they exist.
My senses are failing.
My compass points where I point it.
I cannot hear with my ears,
Feel with my heart,
Know with my mind,
Or see with my eyes.
Adrift and spent…
I hear with my heart.
I feel with my mind.
And though my eyes no longer see you,
You have become my sight.