Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On Sweaters and the Baptismal Life

This will possibly be printed in my church newsletter this month.

I’ve been working on knitting my first sweater for over two years now.  

I didn’t start out wanting to learn to knit sweaters.  I started out wanting to learn to knit socks.  But when I would go to the yarn store to buy yarn, or ask a question, or just knit together with other people, there would always be these beautiful sweaters hanging up all around the shop.  Many other people would be working on their sweaters, which gave me the impression that someday, I too, might be able to knit a sweater.  The store owner would also say to me, over and over, “I don’t understand why you aren’t knitting sweaters.”  Other people would say to me, “Your stitches are so even and pretty”, a form of flattery that often makes people decide to do something they were not going to do at first.

It was not long after I broke down and decided to knit a sweater that my colleague decided to retire.  Perhaps that is why it is taking me so long to finish the sweater.  Perhaps not.

So, I say that this is my "first sweater", but it may also be my last sweater.  I don't know what I will do after I finish it, if I finish it.  I'm not sure that I'm going to try another sweater.  Sometimes I think it is going to be quite beautiful, and other days I wonder if it will fit at all.

The sweater is going to be a pretty green tweed wool.  The yarn feels in my hands as if it would make a good sweater for a cold day like today.  I now have a back, two side panels, and two sleeves.  I am now learning how to sew seams in knitting, which is not as easy as it might sound. 

When I wonder if I will ever finish this sweater, I think two things:  I think of the beauty of the yarn, and I imagine what the sweater will look like when it is finished.  Sometimes that keeps me going.  Other times, it is the people at the yarn store who tell me they will not allow me to quit.  I don’t know what they plan on doing, actually.  I imagine them hunting me down where I am hiding with my miserable unfinished sweater, and threatening me with those shiny circular needles they like so well.

One thing is certain:  I didn’t know what I had gotten into when I bought those nine balls of yarn and began.  I didn’t know what I had gotten into, and if I had, perhaps I wouldn’t have begun at all. 

So it is often a grace that we don’t know what we are getting into when we begin.  No one asks us if we want to be born, and, in my tradition, at least, most of us don’t have the opportunity to be asked if we want to be baptized.  Our parents, for better or for worse, just bring us to the font – and there were are – smack dab in the middle of the mission of God.

Even those of us who get to answer the question, “Do you want to be baptized?”,  and answer “yes”  -- I’ll wager really don’t have any idea what they are getting into.  Do we really know what the baptismal life is all about?  It is a life where we reflect the glory of God, who knows how, a life where we sometimes walk on long and lonely roads, a life where we might be caught standing around in a circle saying prayers at a cemetery on the coldest day of the year.  Sometimes it’s hard.  Sometimes we might even be tempted to give up.

In those times, I imagine our brothers and sisters in Christ, saying to us, “We will not let you give up.  You can do this.  You reflect the glory of God in your life.  You do.  We can see it.”

So, I’ll let you know when I finish the sweater.  And you reflect the glory of God in your life.  Preach it to one another.  Your stitches are beautiful.  And we love you too much to let you give up.


Terri said...

I've been working on a much smaller sweater, using ordinary yarn, for my god-daughters. I've been working on it for over a year, going on two. I've had to change the size twice because they are growing faster than I am knitting. And maybe it won't even fit once I finish it and mail to them. But, like baptism, its a process that doesn't always seem like it fits but somehow it will end up being just right. No matter how long it takes.

ChrisRKnits said...

Some nice writing by one of my customers. She knits left handed. This makes it a challenge for me to help her, but I like a challenge and I like her. We recently had someone bring in an afghan for blocking; finished after having been begun twenty years earlier. The nice wool was in as good of shape as when she bought it from Linden Hills Yarn all those years ago. It came out beautiful. I hope it doesn't take Diane twenty years to finish her green sweater (she's knit quite a few things since beginning), but if it does, I'll gladly help her every step of the way.

Diane said...

I know you will, Chris! I hope it doesn't take 20 years! I'm almost done with that sleeve...