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Posts Tagged ‘Present Moment’

Sabbath

Yesterday I turned my chair toward the window.

And I sat.

And I watched the sun move across the sky.

And I followed the light as it changed through the frame of my window throughout the day.

From glowing back-lit birch leaves to the glare of head-on shining ones.

I watched the silver strand of a web appear and disappear just as quickly.

The breeze itself changed from crisp to cool and soft and sweet.

And I was glad that my body beckoned me to be still and imposed on me a sabbath.

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Sometimes there’s a silver lining where you wouldn’t expect it.

 

 

 

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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.

(Click here to order the SPRING issue of Seasoned with Peace)

 

 

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:

  • You might have a list of people and/or situations to pray for when you sit down to knit.  Dedicate one color or ‘log’ of the cabin to each item. If doing a group project, come up with a list together.
  • If making a gift for someone, keep track of the colors and tell them how you prayed for them with each one.
  • If donating the project to an organization, prayers and meditations can be focused on the work of that group.

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.”

 

 

 

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The time of day when everything is most fully itself

 

When light sheds light

 

When edges are soft and kind

 

When eyes no longer squint but open wide

 

When the day sighs with satisfaction

 

When thoughts turn to gathering in

 

When all is in-between light and dark and there is no either-or

 

 

 

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Have you ever played that game where you sit across from a friend and you each draw the other without looking at the paper and without lifting your pencil?  I always loved how grotesque those drawings turned out and they were always hilarious.  A rollicking good time.  Those drawings required concentration and a good dose of will-power.  It was really hard not to look at the paper as you were drawing and stay focused on the face of your friend.

 

I’ve been reading — working through, really – two books lately.  One is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.  The other is The Zen of Seeing by Frederick Franck.  Both are about drawing, but even more about learning to see differently.

 

Today I did an exercise in seeing – I crumbled up a piece of paper and drew it without looking.  Slowly.  Very slowly.  And as I drew this crumpled-up piece of paper, an amazing thing happened.  I began to see an iceberg.

 

Now I’m not advocating drawing as the new hallucinogen.  What I mean is that I became so absorbed in the experience of seeing that it was as if I went inside the iceberg.  Oops, I mean crumpled paper.  See what I mean?  I felt as though I was exploring the cavernous expanse of an iceberg, making my way toward the shaft of light in the center.

 

I don’t mind telling you that I’ve been a little high-strung lately.  Nothing serious, just the normal ebb and flow of life, the human condition and all that.  And like the puzzle of Two Dutch Girls, drawing – without worrying about what it looked like – just doing it, and doing it slowly, settled me down.

 

The light in the center.  That’s where I went.  And when I came out I felt centered and full of light.

 

 

 

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This one comes with a major sense of accomplishment.  Many of us live lives that refuse to be quantified; we can’t often point to something at the end of the day and say, “I did that.”

 

It’s nice to finally be able to do that with “Two Dutch Girls – A Real Wooden Puzzle,” a piece that I’ve wanted to write for a number of years.  It’s about a puzzle, and time, and renewal.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

 

Despite having written about slowing down in my December PeaceSigns article <http://peace.mennolink.org/cgi-bin/m.pl?a=803>, I struggled to finish making all my homemade gifts, host and attend holiday gatherings, pack for our visit to California, and maintain some semblance of Advent preparation. Just at the point when I felt I might come apart at the seams, I took out this puzzle.


(For the full article, click here.)

 

 

 

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Mostly Clear

 

The sidewalks were mostly clear of snow and ice when I went out for a walk this morning.  The first time my feet lost traction for a moment, I couldn’t help asking myself if now is a time…

 

… to walk only in the sun and stay away from the shadows?

 

… to be extra cautious and vigilant or to take a risk?

 

… for patience or for action?

 

Is it even worth it if I’m more focused on where to place my next step than I am on enjoying the walk and my surroundings?

 

I found myself heading down to a bridge where there is a stream and thought it maybe wasn’t a good idea.  Just before turning back I decided to see if there was actually still ice on the hill.  There wasn’t.

 

The bridge itself, however, was covered in ice.  I stood there for a minute, a bit disappointed, and listened to the water.  Then I looked across the street and thought I might cross over.  I’d never been on that side.

 

From the other side of the street I saw a path in the snow that went along the stream on this side of the bridge.  And even better, there was a tree stump that wasn’t entirely covered in snow that looked like a good place to sit.  So I sat.  And I listened.  And I heard birds and water and all the other little sounds you hear sitting by a stream in a wooded area.

 

The mud path continued and even though I’d never been on it I thought I probably knew where it went.  I wanted to find out and keep going but I didn’t have any water, and no one of whom I could demand food, and it was getting on lunchtime.  I don’t know about you, but I get weird when I need food and water and I didn’t want to have to call my husband to have him come pick me up, especially if I was unable to tell him exactly where I was.

 

I had already been carrying my hat in my hand like a basket for some time.  At some point I’d stuffed my gloves into my hat.  Now as I turned toward home I shed my coat as well.

 

I don’t know when I stopped asking myself questions about whether ‘mostly clear’ was a good enough time.  But as I picked my way back up the hill I realized that my feet had answered that question after the first little slip on the ice.

 

 

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