We are deep into winter here in Iowa and it’s been a while since we’ve seen sunshine, blue sky, or even double digit temperatures above zero. When it’s cloudy like this, the sky and the snow-covered ground are the same color and it’s hard to tell where the sky stops and the earth begins.
A few days of sunshine would do wonders here. The white sky matches my mood at times. It’s like living inside an envelope. Because of my surgery and recovery, I’ve been indoors for the last four weeks. I’d love to go out and walk up and down the block instead of up and down the hall. But the snow and icy patches along with the wicked cold is not good for someone who is recovering from orthopedic surgery.
I’ve been knitting the winter away between my walks, exercises, and refills of coffee. For me, I want to work on a project that doesn’t require too much concentration but has enough of a pattern to keep it interesting. The repetitive movements and the feel of the yarn winding through my fingers is meditative for me.
Many years ago when I was just starting to knit, I took my needles and yarn with me to a meeting of a statewide board of directors for my church denomination. When the agenda turned to a sensitive topic, I pulled out my knitting and began to stitch. Row after row, predictable, measured movement. Just like my breathing – measured and easy. I felt calm and I hoped that feeling would radiate from me to the people next to me. I noticed others watching my hands and the small rhythmic, possibly hypnotic movement of the yarn in my fingers wrapping around the tips of the needles over and over.
During a break in the meeting, one of the board members, named Dick, a lovely older gentleman sitting across from me, quietly told me how much he loved my knitting during this stressful business before the board.
“My mother knit and I am reminded of her with your knitting. I never realized how comforting that movement and the tiny sound of the needles working together made me feel. Thank you so much for giving me this today.”
We’re deep in that part of winter where the bitter cold and piles of snow make life challenging, even in a “normal” winter. But this February, we continue to be isolated and separated from people we love and even total strangers. I feel deeply for those who are being crushed by solitude due to the virus. For those who are behind on their bills and have to rely on donated food, hoping that their utilities will stay on, and that they won’t be evicted. I am afraid for those who are living on the edge and those who fell a long time ago. These are extremely difficult times that touch every single one of us in some way.
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”Albert Camus
But, I keep knitting and while I knit I meditate, I pray, I think of others. I can begin to see how I want things to be different as we come out on the other side of this. I recognize my role and what my contribution to my community can be. Hope begins to rekindle in me. Our days are already beginning earlier and lasting longer nearly two months from the winter solstice. A few brave cardinals are singing in the mornings again. My current knitting project, an item for a January baby, absolutely makes that hope shine more brightly. In a time when holding fast to truth is not necessarily the done thing and expressing love of neighbor is seen as an act of resistance, it’s very hard to shine the light of hope. Tend that fire, keep the light shining, honor that stronger better something within you that keeps pushing that light forward.