Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I have to give a devotional on Friday for our orientation. Tonight as I was reading through some devotional books, I came across a title of something that sounded interesting. As I read it, my mind jumped to somewhere else and voila, an idea came. Here's what I have so far.

(Lifeline is shown above as the white thread)


Knitting a sweater doesn't seem like a spritual practice, but finishing this one was. The main body of the sweater was fairly easy, it just took time and a lot of yarn. The sleeves knit up quickly and were attached.

I knew by the photos and the pattern that the hardest part, the cables, were coming up next. Not wanting to lose any of the stitches or work that I had already done, I chose to put in a lifeline. A lifeline is a thread that you draw through all the stitches on the needles and keep it there in case you make a mistake and have to rip back. It means that if you mess up badly, all you do is unravel and you can start over. When the piece is finished, you simple take the Lifeline out.

I began the cabling and enjoyed following the chart. Each row of cables took about an hour, they were that intense. After a few rows, I noticed that the cables didn't look like the pictures. I did a few more rows and put some more hours into it but it still didn't help. Frustrated, I threw the sweater down and took a break.

The next day, I ripped the few rows out and started over. Surely I had been reading the chart wrong and just needed to review. After a few rows of more cabling, it was clear that I was still doing it wrong. I threw the sweater down with a little more meaning this time.

A day or so later, I came back to inspect the work. When I turned it over, I saw the cables that should've been on the outside! I had been reading the chart backwards; from left to right instead of right to left. Now, I know that you read charts from right to left but on the instructions it had told me to go from left to right. It never said that after the set-up row, you go from right to left. What they had assumed was common sense to a knitter caused my cables to be on the wrong side of the sweater.

I ripped back to the lifeline, again.

This time, I worked smarter. I made up a swatch, a sample piece and tried the pattern from right to left. Voila! It worked, it looked like the pictures and it was lovely. I began again for the third time on the cable pattern.

The cables begin to form beneath my fingers. By this point, I knew the pattern so well that I almost didn't need the charts. Each twist and swoop of the cable was exciting to watch as it formed into a recognizable pattern. All too soon it was over and I only had the rest of the neck to knit and more mindless knitting. The next week, I was wearing the sweater.

The spiritual practice was in the lifeline. Just like life, you sail along with God and make beautiful stitches together. They are perfectly functional, if a little mundane. This is sometimes what everday life can be. But you know that around the corner, there's going to be some complicated happenings. Instead of hoping that everything will go fine on the first try and risking losing somef of the foundation of work you've put in, I planned ahead with the Lifeline.

I threaded my faith though it so that if I judged wrongly, misunderstood or even if someone else's instructions to me were wrong or misleading, I could fall back on my faith and measure my progress again from there.

The true lesson for me is not that I could pat my back and say "good job" for thinking ahead and adding the Lifeline right before the complicated part. The lesson is that I should be putting in Lifelines of faith more often. Who knows when an unexpected event may occur? Faith should be threaded throughout my life more often. Just like a Lifeline, it takes time and planning to put one in. But with practice, pretty soon it'll become like just another habit. When that happens, I'll be ready for anything unexpected.

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