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.

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