First Saturday in Lent – Setting up for Forgiveness

REMEMBER NO POST TOMORROW – WE TAKE SUNDAY’S OFF TO GO TO CHURCH!

Knitting idea:  I’ve decided to set myself up to do some cables.  Here are my four rows for today.  I’m doing seed stitch of the first four stitches and the last four stitches.  In the middle I’m purling four stitches and then knitting four stitches.  On the wrong side I’m keep the seed stitches going on the ends and knitting the knit stitches and purling the purl stitches in the middle.

Row 1:  (seed stitch K1,P1,K1,P1) P4,K4,p4,K4,P4,K4,P4,K4,P4,K4 (seed stitch P1,K1,P1,K1)   Row 2:  (seed stitch P1,K1,P1,K1) P4,K4,P4,K4,P4,K4,P4,K4,P4,K4 (seed stitch K1,P1,K1,P1)

Row 3 (Repeat row 1)  Row 4 (repeat row 2)

Remember you can decide to create your own pattern.  True Confession:  I have no idea where this is going and this is my first time creating a pattern.  I’m just taking it day to day!

Reflection:

One of the lectionary readings appointed for today is Isaiah 58:9-14.  Read it slowly to yourself.  Set yourself up for lent.  Know that when you cry, God will be there.  I’m going to bold some parts that spoke to me.

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
   you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. 


If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday. 
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail. 
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.


If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honourable;
if you honour it, not going your own ways,
   serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs; 
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

I find this passage so comforting.  We cry for help and God is there.  “Here I am,” says God.  Once we let go of pointing the finger, speaking of evil and focus on the hungry and the afflicted, we will enable the Lord’s guidance.  That can be hard.  I had a person recently ask me how to forgive someone she had been angry at for years.  She wanted to forgive but her feelings were still raw and I could see the anger in her face.  All we can do is cry for help and God will be there.  We can ask God to help us forgive and in the meantime focus on helping others and allowing ourselves to be loved.  Let the seed of forgiveness be planted in our hearts and God will help it to grow.

I love the image of being like a watered garden, all green and lush, heavily laden with fruit ready to pick.  God’s waters never fail.  We say yes to growth, yes to God and eventually yes to forgiveness.  It takes the time it takes.  We can be open to God’s help.

A prayer for your knitting time:

Psalm 86 Verse 11  Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; knit my heart to you that I may be in awe of your name.

 

 

Advertisements

Day 3 – My first mistake!

 

Knitting ideas:  I decided to do 4 more rows of stockinette just to get a little distance from my seed stitch.  What I forgot to do is keep the first four stitches and the last four stitches in the seed stitch pattern.  If you look closely you can see that the first four rows of stockinette have the seed stitch and the second four rows do not.

Reflection:

Matthew 19.21:

Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money* to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’

Perfection – what is it?  There is nothing wrong with trying to make a knitting project perfect.  I have actually accomplished it a few times (I think?).  Most of my projects have some kind of mistake – some visible and some invisible (except to me and other expert knitters.

Last year during Lent, I posted a picture of a sweater with a mistake in one of the cables.  See below, the second cable on the right from the middle near the waist line.  I forgot to do the cable stitch and created a longer piece.

IMG_1929

I chose not to unravel and correct this mistake.  I had been knitting on this sweater in the hospital where my Dad was recovering from heart surgery.  I was paying more attention to him than to my knitting.  Looking at this “mistake” this bump in the road reminds me of that time I spent with him.  This mistakes represents my love for my Dad.

We’re taught that we can learn from our mistakes and this is certainly true. What is perfection?  Jesus tells the rich young man perfection is letting go of all of our worldly possessions and following him.  Perfection is traveling the same path as the one who manifested God’s love to all people at all times.

The only way to perfection is to let go of our attachments (that might even include our unrealistic desire to be perfect all the time) and follow Jesus.  This is a life long process that requires constant discernment and commitment.

What mistakes have we made and what have they taught us?

 

Day 2; Setting up

IMG_1224

Knitting idea:  I decided to do 4 rows of stockinette stitch today although I’m going to keep the first four stitches and the last four stitches in the seed stitch pattern so I have sort of a frame (ends and sides will be seed stitch).  For me just 4 rows of 48 stitches gives me an inch.  Stockinette stitch is knit one row, purl one row, repeat.  Since I don’t know where I am going with this I decided to create a blank canvas with this stitch.  You can see just the plain knitting about the seed stitch.

Reflection:

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  (Philippians 4:6)

All I needed to do was just write out the introductory stanza – Do not worry about anything!  Can you imagine?  Life without worry?  Fear of the future is often a motivator  to do the right things.  It’s when worry takes over and becomes anxiety then life becomes difficult and challenging.

This passage is about giving control over to God.  Those in AA do this daily.  Surrendering to God is necessary to stay on the right track.  The spiritual life is about letting go.  Letting go of needless anxiety, letting go of things we have no control over, letting go of unrealistic expectations and trusting God.

So how well do we trust God?  It all depends on our image of God.  I had to let go of some pretty juvenile images of God when I first started to pray seriously.  The old gruff man on the throne who tracked my church attendance and frowned and recorded in his huge book every wrong thing I did.  God was like a grumpy Santa that was so over Christmas.  Now my image is just loving arms around me, arms that reach out to all people, caring, merciful, and wide!

What is your image of God?  Who are you spending time with right now?  What do you need to turn over to God?  How will you build up trust?

 

Ash Wednesday – Day One! Lenten Knit Along

Welcome!

Welcome to an exciting journey – praying through lent.  We’ll start with the knitting idea, then there will be a reflection or you could read a lenten devotional of your choice.

Knitting idea

This is a spiritual exercise and full knitting disclosure –  I’ve never created a pattern before!  Follow or not, just spend the time knitting and praying everyday, that’s the important part.  Here is what I have:  48 stitches on size 8 needles using some beautiful home spun yarn.

I’ve decided to start my prayer cowl with seed stitch.  I’ll end it with seed stitch too so when I join the ends together it will be hard to tell where the seam is.   Seed Stitch: First Row –  Knit one, Purl one.  Second Row – knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches.  If you need more instructions:  go here.  

 

Four rows equaled one inch on my size 8 needles.  Day one knitting is done.

Reflection:

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust.  Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.  For a long time, these words were just part of a liturgy that I had been attending for years.  I heard them, I knew what they meant but I did not internalize them.  Yeah sure, someday we are all going to die but why go there?

And then I became a priest.  On my first Ash Wednesday, a woman brought her adorable 18 month old child to the communion rail to receive ashes and there I was, my thumb on the soft pale skin of her forehead drawing a splotchy sign of the cross, ashes falling onto her perky little nose, and her eyes focused on mine as I said “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.  This time the words penetrated.  Even this cute little girl would someday die.  Ash Wednesday is a reminder of our mortality and a call to repent.  Repent – metanoia – turn back toward God.

Here is the confession we use at St. Mark’s and St. John’s church:

Holy and merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against our brothers and sisters and against you. We cherish the values of this world.  We cause others to stumble.  The earth is wounded by our excess.  Have mercy O God, forgive us and renew us, and raise us up on Eagles wings, that we may do your will with courage and delight.  Amen.

Some questions for prayer time:  What keeps me from God?  What gets in my way of deepening my relationship with God?  What do I need to repent?  What action will I take?

I choose the seed stitch because not only will it look good when I join the two ends, it represents potential.  Seeds take root in the dust that we eventually will become.  From the end there is always a beginning.  God is always sowing new seeds in us.  How will you start this journey?  Feel free to share!

Start your countdown! One more week!

I love starting a project!  It’s like going on a honeymoon.  It’s new, it’s fun, it’s exciting until it’s not.  Then the work begins.

Committing to something for forty days doesn’t seem like much until the newness wears off, all the demands of every day life start encroaching on your designated prayer time.  Then something happens and suddenly it’s been three days since you picked up your project and sat down to spend time with God.  As each day goes by it gets harder and harder to restart and there is the abandoned project on your bedside table mocking you.

Trust me, I’ve been there.  Here are some hints that may help.

  • Don’t make your daily goals super time consuming.  If you committed to too many rows or too much time, you could be setting yourself up for failure.  It’s consistency that’s important.  Better to do 60 seconds per day of prayer than nothing.
  • Figure out a strategy for getting back to your prayer practice.  Find a prayer partner that will encourage you.  Reach out on social media and let us know you’ve hit a wall.  You will not be the only one.  It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being able to restart.
  • Don’t try to catch up.  If you are following a pattern that will take you forty days to complete assuming you are able to knit for forty days and you miss a day.  Don’t try to knit two days worth.  Just pick up where you left off and do one days worth once you restart.  If you try and make yourself catch up (I missed three days, now I have to knit three inches in one day to catch up – Don’t do it!) You won’t want to start again if you try to catch up – it’s too overwhelming!  There are plenty more days to knit after Easter.

We are here to support one another.  No guilt, any daily practice is difficult.  Have you ever gone to bed without brushing your teeth?

 

Praying or Knitting?

 

There are as many ways to pray as there are people on this earth.  Prayer is about being in relationship with God.  What does that look like?  The first step is to think about how we deepen our relationship we those we love?  How do we nurture relationships?

  • we spend time with those we love
  • we listen to those we love
  • we make sacrifices for those we love
  • we express our deepest feelings to those we love
  • we help those we love
  • we draw strength from those we love
  • we support those we love
  • we work at knowing those we love and we allow ourselves to known

I’m sure there are many more ways we work at our relationships.  Prayer is a vehicle for being in relationship with God.  Prayer is spending intentional time being in relationship with God.

Have you ever sat and knit with a friend?  Maybe you both sit in silence, maybe you are telling your friend something that is troubling you or maybe your friend is telling you their deepest desires for you.

There is no right way to pray or knit and pray.  What is required is an open heart, a desire to grow in our relationship with God, time, two sticks and some yarn.  When you think about knitting through Lent, what do you picture yourself doing?  Will you say a specific prayer?  Will you just listen?  Do you have a list of people you want to pray for?

For me, I sit and knit.  I know God is there.  I try and keep my mind open and uncluttered with thoughts.  If I remember something I need to do, I write it down and then let it go.  I just knit.  Sometimes I will say the Jesus Prayer “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me” over and over.  I find it comforting.  Sometimes I just knit.  Typically nothing happens in that moment except the rest of my life changes when I am consistent with prayer.  Things happen.

Lenten Knit Along Rochester Retreat!

download

Let’s review!  The Lenten Knit along is about spending time with God.  The knitting part helps us track our prayer progress.  You can knit anything you want with any yarn you want.  The important thing is to commit to praying/knitting 6 out of 7 days a week during Lent.

Here is what I am doing and for those of you who want a pattern, you can follow along!  I have picked a hand spun yarn that a friend gave me.  IMG_0717

I did a swatch and determined that I want to use size 8 needles and 48 stitches.  With this yarn, 48 stitches will make my Lenten project 12 inches wide.  Each day, I plan to knit 4 rows which makes one inch a day.  At the end of the 40 days, I will have a rectangle that is 40 inches long and 12 inches wide.  I plan to join the two ends to make a long wrap around cowl.

You may decide to knit a pray shawl, or work on an afghan or anything you want!  Just commit to a daily knitting goal.  I’ll write more about the actual experience of knitting and praying next time.  Just figure out what you want to commit to and share it with friends or on our Facebook page.  The whole idea of this Knit Along is to develop a habit of prayer!

We will get together to share our projects and our experience at the Retreat!

Saturday, March 24, 2018 from 9:00 to noon at St. Mark’s and St, John’s, 1245 Culver Road, Rochester, NY  14609.

 

 

 

Pre Lenten Project – How we can help women who are homeless.

When I was a child, I was encouraged to give something up for Lent.  The default was chocolate but I remember one time giving up a television show – Walt Disney on Sunday nights.  At the time, this seemed like a huge deal.  I was miserable on Sunday nights listening to my family laughing in the living room, hearing spoons scraping the last bit of their chocolate sundaes out of their bowls and wishing I was there.  I was unable to connect how this sacrifice had anything to do with Lent.  No one ever explained Lent to me.  I was just told I should give something up.

Now I understand that Lent is a time to listen, to be quiet, to find our own desert time and be open to how the Spirit might work in and through us.

As an adult, I usually try to take something on for Lent – like creating better habits, improving my prayer life, intentionally spending more time with God which is what Knitting through Lent will help us do.  This incarnational project will also encourage creativity and our progress will become visible as we add inches day by day.  Preparing is necessary to sustain our commitment.  Do you have a prayer/knitting buddy?  Do you have a time and place where you will conduct your knitting practice?  Hopefully you have joined the Facebook page so you can share your progress with others on the journey.

How will you celebrate Mardi Gras?

I heard the Spirit recently when our church began to think and plan for our annual Mardi Gras pancake dinner.  Instead of just planning a party for ourselves, we decided to take a page from  The Volunteers of America in Upstate NY .  They are having a Mardi Bra party.  They are collecting bras for homeless women.  New underwear is the least donated item to homeless shelters.  No one wants to talk about the need for underwear.  We donated underwear to victims of the Hurricane in Houston.  Now we want to bring a little joy to Upstate NY.  We have declared the next four Sundays as Undie Sundays.  We are hoping to collect some new underwear (women’s or mens) to provide to the VOA of Upstate NY.  If you want to join us, drop off or mail your donations to 1245 Culver Road, Rochester, NY.

Next week, I plan on throwing out some ideas about praying while knitting or crocheting.  Five weeks until Ash Wednesday!

 

Preparing for the Lenten Knit (Crochet) Along

download.jpg

crocheting-yarn-diy-knitting-162499.jpeg

So, how is everyone doing preparing for our forty days of knitting or crocheting with God?  I redid my gauge and realize I’m going to be using less stitches.  I’m going for a 12 inch by 40 inch piece as I mentioned in the last post.  I’m trying to have a multiple of 8 so I can do some cool stitches that I will share once we get going.

The finished garment is not the goal here.  This spiritual exercise is more about consistently sitting down and being intentional about praying.  Consistency is the name of the game and by knitting or crocheting we will have visual evidence of our progress.

Some things to consider as you prepare:

  1.  Invite your friends so you can encourage one another
  2. What time of day will you sit down to pray (knit/crochet)?  What might get in the way?  Do you have a back up time?
  3. Where will you sit down to pray?  How will you prevent interruptions?
  4. What will you do if you go several days without praying?  How will you get back on track?

I’ll be posting once a week until Ash Wednesday (Feb. 14th) and then I will post every day!

Next week, I will have the retreat date so for all of you close to Rochester, NY you will have a place to come and share your experience!  The retreat will be on a Saturday morning during Lent.  Stay tuned!

Blessings,

Julie

 

 

Join the Lenten Knit Along!

Get ready!  Starting Ash Wednesday (2/14/18), join me in a Spiritual Lenten Knit aAlong!  There will be many ways to customize this experience and there will be two retreats (One in Rochester and one in either Geneva or Lyons) to share your work during Lent (more details on this later).

What you need to do now to be ready by Ash Wednesday (Feb. 14, 2018).

  1.  Choose a yarn – any yarn will do!  How about some yarn hanging out in your stash?  Or go to Sew Green in Rochester and pick up some yarn.
  2. Choose the size needles that is recommended for your yarn.
  3. Cast on some stitches and check your gauge.  You want to know two things:  how many stitches per inch and how many rows per inch.  To refresh your memory about how to measure gauge look here.

The Project

Our Lenten Knit Along project is a 40 inch cowl.  Each day there will be a new post on this blog with a spiritual reflection and a stitch suggestion.  The idea is to knit one inch a day for forty days.  You can try the stitch suggestion or make up your own.  We will be sharing our work and our experiences on the Knitting as a Spiritual Discipline Facebook page.

What I am doing:

I have chosen a hand spun yarn that has been in my stash for a long time.  I am using size 8 needles and I plan on casting on 56 stitches (there are a lot of stitch patterns that use a multiple of 8 stitches).  After doing my gauge, I know I will be knitting 4 rows a day (this equals one inch of length).  This seems really doable.  At the end, I plan on joining the two ends together for a wrap around cowl that will be 40 inches by 12 inches wide.`

IMG_1220

There are 47 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.  This means we get 7 days not to knit.  I’ll be posting a spiritual reflection every day and a stitch pattern.  Read the spiritual reflection, center yourself and then knit a few rows.  Feel free to share your experiences as comments on the blog or on the Facebook page listed above.

START DATE:  2/14/18  Check the blog or the Facebook page!  Get ready to deepen your relationship with God through Lent.