Emily | A Year of Living Adventurously
Recently, I took up knitting. I’ve been wanting to do this for many years, now, but somehow I never quite got the gist of it–how to cast on, how to actually knit. I liked to look at the pretty patterns and vibrant yarn shades in craft stores, but the actual art of sewing remained a mystery to me.
Last month, a friend of mine sat down with me and taught me to knit. One of the things she taught me is that knitting isn’t an art where you see immediate results. It takes time for the rows and shape of the item to come into being; in fact, for the first three or four rows of any project, it can look like large bit of knotted wool! I kept thinking I was doing it wrong. But by the time I reached 10, 20, or 30 rows, I could see that I was actually making something. There was form and beauty there, and probably a few mistakes. But for the most part, it was a recognizable object. The yarn had been turned, by my hands and the needles, into a piece of fabric that had uses.
While I knit, the lines of Psalm 90 come into my head a lot: “Prosper the work of our hands for us!” Do we do a lot of “work of our hands” anymore? There’s cooking, and cleaning–unless you have a Roomba or Rosie the robot, that’s work of your hands. Any sort of fabric craft. Writing is mostly typing, but my journal is hand written.
Raising kids in a pretty hands-on activity: washing, dressing, changing, physically restraining them from touching the hot stove or putting a cell phone in their mouths. You push them in the stroller, you pick them up from the floor, you lay them in their cribs and beds. And, like the knitting projects, you really don’t know if you’re doing it “right” until a lot of rows (and years) have past. When you look back, there may be a few mistakes. But in general, you hope the project turns out OK and that it resembles what you thought it was going to. It has integrity, loveliness, and use.
I hate seeing mistakes in my work. Even though I know I’ve only been knitting for a little over a month, I want everything to be perfect. I think it reflects badly on me, if my work isn’t perfect. But the psalm reminds us to ask God to help make our work its best. Because He’s the one who gives us the ability to do it, anyway.
Verse 12 of the psalm says: “Teach us to count our ways aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” When I knit, I count the stitches in the rows. Schoolkids count the days until the next summer vacation (yes, school has started for all the districts here in Central Ohio. Yes, it’s August 21…), or their birthdays. Like a knitting project, our days have a finite beginning, and a finite end. And in between, God can help us number our days aright, and help our work prosper for our good.