Sunday, July 31, 2011

Knitting Myself Back Together

I just realized something about a week ago.  I haven't really been knitting much since January.  That means since the worst of my depression I haven't been able to pick up the needles and work the stitches.

Then about a week ago I pulled a book off of my stack of "to be read when I have the time" novels and began to read.  The book just happened to be The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood.  It is a book about knitting and grief.  One woman early on in the book even says "We knit to save our lives."

In an amazing God-incidence, the final character introduced to the knitting circle in the book is a woman named Maggie who is so filled with grief that she can't seem to learn even the most basics of knitting.

After I finished reading the book I read the Author's forward (in the reading group copy, Norton Publishing,). In it Ms. Hood states that during a time of grief in her own life she lost her ability to write.  I too am experiencing a very dry spell in my own writing.  I can't seem to get any ideas from my head into words on the screen.  I am at a total loss.  I barely even write in my journal.  It was such a gift to know that 1) another writer had been where I am now and found her way out of it successfully and 2) knitting helped.

So, I am picking up a project I began last Christmas when my daughter was visiting; a shawl for her to take on airplanes where she is always cold that she can use as a blanket on the plane but wear as a shawl through the airport.  It has a beautiful basket-weave pattern that is very rhythmic and will help me get out of my thoughts.  Each stitch will be a prayer for my daughter and with each stitch I will hopefully be closer and closer to feeling like I can live without the weight of my grief someday.

It feels good to have the needles in my hands again.  The yarn slips through my fingers and with each row the shawl takes shape.  In a very cathartic way it even feels good to tink and frog -- remove mistakes for non knitters.  Tink means to remove stitches one at a time  (knit spelled backward, get it) and frogging means ripping out entire rows or numbers of rows of stitches (rip-it  rip-it rip-it).  And when I finish this project I have already picked out my next one, but I need to make a trip to the yarn store for that because I looked in my needle drawer and I don't have the right needles to make it.  Wonder what treasures I will find when I get there?


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crock-Pot Healing

We are so immersed in the Microwave generation it is really hard for us to think in the long term anymore.  So when healing takes a long time it can be really hard to be a patient patient.  I am in the middle of a long slow healing process, and I am running low on patience.  I want to be back to normal now.  Each time I go to the Dr. I get good news, but even that isn't enough.  I want a microwave healing instead of a crock pot healing.

As I was thinking about this the other day I remembered a story one of my spiritual directors told me about St. Therese the Little Flower.  She was very impatient for something to happen and her spiritual director told her that you can empty  a vase by turning it over and dumping out the water or you can empty the water by dropping in one tiny pebble after the other.  Each tiny pebble displaces a bit of the water, and eventually after enough pebbles have been dropped into the vase the water will all be gone,  and in its place will be thousands of tiny pebbles.  God works in both ways; sometimes God chooses the latter way because it is more compassionate.  We need the time that it takes with each pebble drop to adjust to the change in water level.

So the slow and steady upward trend of my healing is just fine by me because God's timing, while it may not be my ideal choice, is perfect. I would love to be healthy tomorrow, but there is much I can learn as I wait; patience, cooperation, determination, courage, strength and an appreciation for how fearfully, wonderfully I am made.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Be Careful How You Word Your Prayers

So, I have had a horrible dry stretch in my writing.  I have attempted at least three times a week to open the files for either project I am working on and I sit for at least a half hour staring at a blank computer screen and I can think of nothing to write.   I haven't even been able to write blog posts that I think are very good.  I have written a few that I thought were passable,  but not like the old days. 

I mentioned it to a friend how frustrating it feels to be a writer with nothing in my head to write and she told me a story.  

There is a psychologist who works with people in Los Angeles. At times he works with creative types like screenwriters and authors.  When one of his patients has writer's block he says they should try this:

Every day when you wake up you say a prayer asking God to allow you to write the worst sentence you have ever written, and then set about the task of writing.  Somehow giving yourself permission to write lousy prose breaks through the mental block you are experiencing.  

So, I did just that, for weeks I prayed that God would allow me to write the worst sentence I had ever written.  Then I sat there at my computer and still nothing came.  Then one day I was sitting at my computer trying to write a blog post about gratitude and it happened.  I wrote three of the worst sentences I had ever written in my entire life.    They were trite, uninteresting and  made less than no sense.  

I sat at my computer, and looked at them and almost cried with relief.  God had answered my prayer.  

I learned two very important lessons that day:  1) God answers prayers in God's time, so be persistent in prayer.  and 2) be really specific about what you want from God.  Why couldn't I have asked in my prayer for God to allow me to write like I used to write; meaningful prose from deep in my soul?   Prose that was so beautiful that sometimes I would read it and wonder at the fact that it had actually come from me.  

Thank you God for answering my prayer, but next time could you give me what I need and not what I ask for?


Saturday, July 09, 2011

Downloading Patience

So, I am sitting here at my favorite Starbucks, sipping a Zen tea and waiting for a very, very long download to complete to my computer/Garmin.  It occurred to me that watching something download is the New Millennium equivalent of watching paint dry.  It is the most boring, frustrating activity I can think of doing.

Silly me, I forgot to bring a book with me.

It wasn't until I had been watching the numbers go down, then back up, then down, then back up again for about  thirty-five minutes, that I was wasting a great opportunity to practice patience instead of annoyance.  I mean really, here I was drinking Zen tea, and becoming more and more frustrated instead of using all this wonderful free time to let my mind center on God.

I began to take that inner journey,  letting go of everything; my surroundings, the smooth jazz coming from the XM radio station playing in the background, the download status that kept trending up-then-down on my computer screen, even the fact that my hair was still a bit wet from my workout at the gym just before I came here, and sat with my eyes closed and centered myself on that seed, planted deep inside.  (The image I have come to use as my center).  Conscious of my breathing, and then even letting that go I let the moments slip away along with my frustrations, cares, heartaches and prayers.

I allowed myself to completely rest, wanting nothing, seeking nothing, doing nothing.

Patience is surrender.  Surrender is peace. Purity of heart is to will one thing.

Who knew downloading Garmin Maps would be the pathway to peace?