(adapted from my church newsletter column)
In about the last year, I've experienced a renaissance in knitting. You can ask my family and friends: I've knitted scads of scarves, a couple of pairs of fingerless gloves, and my first ever pair of mittens! (currently: to knit, or not to knit a hat: that is the question.)
To be fair, I've known how to knit ever since I was in junior high. In seventh grade, my teacher patiently taught me the garter stitch, even though I was left-handed. In 10th grade, I stayed hom from school with a bad cold for several and taught myself to purl and cable stitch. I gave it up after a hat done in something called "popcorn stitch" looked very pretty, but had absolutely no stretch and wouldn't stay on my head. (I think I had a problem with gauge.)
On and off, I've tried and abandoned projects when the directions got too difficult for me. I taught myself to knit in the round but could complete no projects with it.
Then, suddenly, something changed. I stopped into a little knitting store one day and asked if they had any classes, particularly classes in how to make socks.
"Can you knit and purl?" they asked. "Come in and we'll help you."
It seems to me, lately, that our life of faith can be much the same. For years we can be going along, just knowing how to "knit and purl", so to speak, but not really knowing what to do with our faith, not really knowing what to make. For years, we can be going along, wanting to make something beautiful out of our lives, out of our community, and not really knowing how. Then, suddenly.....
So what makes the difference?
Community. Particularly, what makes a difference is a community of faith where we can dare to ask for help, and people who will say, "Come in and we'll help you."
I even begin to wonder if those classes we like to teach (particularly in larger congregations) aren't so helpful for the knowledge of the teacher who stands in front and "knows everything," but because they make connections between people who can then ask each other for help, as they grow in faith, as God makes something beautiful of their lives.
Two beautiful phrases in the vocabulary of faith: "Can you teach me?" "Come in and we'll help you."