September 17, 2012

Under the Harrow

Writing is hard today.

No grand piano fell out of my sky; no elephant showed up in my living room. It would be easier to write if something specific was present. Today it's simply low-grade depression, a sudden migraine (with nausea, light sensitivity and dizziness accompanying it), and an increased volume of my internal critic.

When you write, you live for the moments when passion burns hot, words tumble down through your fingers, and perfect phrasing leaps to mind. I am told 'tis best to write what we know. I also believe that when I am most incapable that I have to rely on something outside myself, on God, to accomplish things. Right now, I am beyond myself and outside my strength.

Writing often comes from a higher perspective or speaks of past experiences. Presented problems have an answer or purpose with a neat bow. Words are aimed to teach or share wisdom, not confess lack of any of these things.

And yet...

I trust most what has cost the most to produce. I identify as another person says the refining fire went several notches hotter than they wanted; I understand the fog someone else describes in tired tones. I value those words, that experience, more than a person's host of words on a shelf full of books.

We all have hard days. We all have grim moments when we concede it's a day of meeting less than 10% of your expectations for what you say, say you'll do, and do. Storm or sudden calm catches us unaware, our sails set for a different wind.

We fight by giving of our best, even when it feels like less than a better day's best. I felt the need to write from today's furnace, to share that today is hard. It's hard to avoid dreading tomorrow's tempering heat or halt questions of how long it will last this time around. It's grim to have no clear-cut questions, let alone answers to them. Making myself write despite it all was the only thin path I thought I could walk today. I write without knowing whether my fall will be heard or make a sound in the forest at all, but...

I needed to write from under the harrow, despite it being hard to write today.

September 11, 2012

Clutching Crochet

I learned to crochet chains at a young age, but it wasn't until college that I taught myself the rest of it. Those first few afghans were functional at best! I recently began making an afghan just for me, and as a treat I'm making it out of baby alpaca yarn. Working with it is wonderful. I mentioned to my mate that I may never go back to basic yarn, and he asked if I was planning on crocheting a lot less. Baby alpacas have expensive hair, particularly Peruvian baby alpacas!

Crocheting is a very devotional experience for me. I see spiritual analogies every time I work. The yarn is a single strand that ends up making an utterly unique product, as God's love does in and through my life. Rhythmic motions of a single hook that doesn't change in position remind me of God's consistent, unchanging character. Crochet pieces in progress are patient: if I set aside a project, it will remain at that state until I pick it up again; there is no urgency or need to prevent decay. God is patient with me and meets me wherever I am, however long it has been since I last turned to him.

Tasks like crochet teach me to listen constantly. I work steadily and stay inwardly alert. Yesterday I felt an internal nudge to stop what I was doing. I stopped, then asked myself what the yarn felt like. When working, I'm focused on stitches or counts, not sensory input. I gently squeezed the growing pile of looped yarn and held it in a clenched fist. I thought about its softness and how much I could compress it, then felt my hand start to cramp.

Insights for me are often a mental guillotine, slicing through my threads of thought and narrowing focus to a singularity. I realized I have been clutching parts of my life, holding it in clenched fists. There's a large difference between holding something and holding onto it. Holding something, I can appreciate it and experience it, but not be injured or tried by letting it go. Holding on to it means I'm actually less aware of it; I'm focused on keeping it, determined that my effort, my grasp, will not fail. I make myself and my efforts the focus, not seeing life or what life gives me.

By this time my fingers were close to screaming at me. I slowly straightened my cramping left hand, then thought how much softer the yarn felt when I wasn't holding it tightly.