Love Never Dies! Easter 2017

Happy Easter!!!

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Easter is all about the incredible properties of Love!  Love cannot be contained, it cannot be killed, it is eternal and has the greatest power.    Love energizes, heals, creates, repairs, forgives, and lasts.

The love that Jesus showed us was not contained in the tomb.  It burst forth and manifested itself to the disciples, the people on the road to Emmaus, and a holy host of others.  It continues.

The love of my grandmother continues in the love of my mother, in me, in my children and grandchildren.  It continues.

We are loved first by God and then we love.  That love with patience creates, heals, and can put anything broken back together.  It can take a hot mess and make something out of it!

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Love Transforms.

Let us love one another Alleluia!

 

A new blog will be coming soon called the Healing Power of Gardens.

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Grief work – 4/14/17 – 4/15/17

I keep a sweater in my drawer that my grandmother made.  I’ve never worn it but maybe  I’ll wear it this spring.  I’m not quite sure how I acquired it.  I think my mother had it and gave it to me.  It’s one of those things I know I have at the bottom of a drawer and it comforts me to see it once in a while.

It is a reminder of this person who I absolutely adored.  She would make us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on paper plates and then she would give us chips and soda (stuff we didn’t get at home).  When she visited she would slip me “mad money”.  This would be a five dollar bill that I could spend any way I pleased, preferably on something frivolous.  She never visited long enough.

When I became an adult, I would think about her and give her a call.  She would say “I can’t believe you called, I was just thinking about you.”  Sometimes I would think about calling her and my phone would ring and I would say to her “I can’t believe you called, I was just thinking about YOU!”

We had a special connection.  I visited her in Florida a few days before she died.  She spent that weekend talking about her seven children, their spouses, her grandchildren and her two great grandchildren.  She talked about each one, her love for them, her hopes for them, her dreams for them.  She held my oldest son and fawned over him.

I got the call when I got back to NY.  I remember taking the call in our den.  I remember sinking down onto the blue carpet, already denying what I knew was the truth.  She was gone.

I remember her funeral, one of my aunts loaning me a belt for my dress, breast Feeding my son in the restroom at the funeral home.  My grandmother in her violet suit that she had worn to her fiftieth wedding anniversary party.  A basket of violets at the funeral home – just like the violets at the fiftieth anniversary party.

The only plants I have in my house, the only plants that I have ever been able to keep alive are purple violets.

On Good Friday, I mourn the people I have lost.  People close to me that have formed me as a person.  I think about how all of us at some time or another have rejected the love that we are offered.  I reflect on how the crowds turned on Jesus who had only offered love and healing to his followers.  I think about suffering and death and I pray that all those suffering will become aware of the love of God even though there are moments where we all feel forsaken.  Even Jesus felt forsaken.

On Holy Saturday, we live into the void.  We stare at the rock blocking the entrance to the tomb, we feel the emptiness of loss.  We wait.  We wonder.

Love one another as I have loved you – 4/13/17

When I was a young adult, my grandmother (on my mothers side) and I would go shopping. She was into knitting and crafts just like I was and shopping for yarn and gadgets was our passion. On one of our trips she bought this device that made daisies and I was enamored with it. It was like magic. Some white, yellow and green yarn would be wound, twisted and manipulated into a flower. I sat memorized one afternoon and watching her make them. A few months later, this afghan arrived in the mail. I still have it some thirty years later.

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This Grandmother was religious. She was a good Catholic and when I was a little girl around four or five, I used to go to church with her. She would take me up to the communion rail, kneel next to me and whisper in my ear that God loves me very much. Her arm would be around me and I could feel her warmth and love. That’s how I came to know the love of God. It was through the unconditional love of my grandmother.

Now when young children come up to the communion rail, I kneel down in front of them, look them straight in the eye and say “you remember that God loves you very much.”  I figure they will believe me since I’m behind the rail wearing vestments.  I hope so because I grew up believing I was loved by God and it changed my life.  We love because we are first loved.  So remember, God loves you very much.

What do you do while you’re waiting? 4/12/17

I try to always have a knitting project with me so I’m not frustrated if I have to wait.  If I have my knitting, the plane is never late.  Somehow, if I don’t have my knitting then the plane is delayed for hours.  Amazing!

My waiting project needs to easy so I can pick it up and put it down and not have to figure something out.  The last waiting project I thought would take me forever to complete but surprisingly it was done if just a few months.  It was a simple poncho.  I knit a 50 inch long rectangle, folded it in half, sewed one side and left a 12 inch hole for the neck.  Knit a row, purl a row for fifty inches!

Today is Wednesday of Holy Week.  It was a day of waiting and preparation for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.  Bulletins were folded, music prepared, the church set up, all in anticipation of the liturgies to come.  We all had a sense of waiting, of anticipation of the journey to Jerusalem, following in the steps of Jesus.

Waiting and wondering what will Holy Week teach us this year?

Knit alongs (KAL) – 4/11/17

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There are many different ways of conducting a Knit Along (KAL).  There are mystery KALs where knitters buy yarn and then receive instructions a few lines every day.  Some publish a pattern, knitters sign up and then post pictures of their progress.  There is usually a time period.  Just google Knit Alongs and you can see the variety of definitions.

Signing up for a KAL creates a sense of accountability and the group is there to give support.

The Clergy gathered together to renew our vows today.  When we were ordained we said our vows alone. Now, when we renew our vows, we say it together.  The group is there for support and publicly restating the vows helps keep us all aware and accountable to our call to ministry.  Ministry is both challenging and rewarding.  As we walk through Holy Week, I think about how three years of ministry changed the world.  Jesus spent his time healing those around him.  He created communities of support.  He remained accountable to God even when he felt deserted by both his disciples and God.  He vowed to love others and he did.

Vows are important.  They keep us going when we might want to give up, when we feel deserted, or when we are weak.  Vows made in public help reinforce our resolve.  It’s good to be accountable.

 

 

 

Yarn – A sensory experience – 4/10/17

Yarn is really challenging to buy on the internet.  I’ve only done it once.  I saw a beautiful sweater from Bergere de France in Vogue, so I ordered the pattern and the yarn off the internet since none of the LYS (local yarn stores) carried the line.

Yarn is something that needs to be seen and touched.  Colors are different on a computer screen than in person.  And there is no way to describe softness and drape using words.  How soft is soft?  Knitting with baby alpaca is very different than merino silk but both are tremendous.  Knitting is a sensuous experience.  It’s incarnational.

A Tenebrae service appeals to the senses.  The service splits the Passion reading into sections.  After reading a section, a candle is extinguished and the church gradually gets darker and darker as the story progresses.  Every few sections there was a musical offering from the choir which helped increase the feeling of growing dread as Jesus walked toward his death.  One offering featured an oboe singing its heart out into the darkness, the mournful notes lingered in the air that smelled like candle wax, the smoke from the extinguished candle thin and wispy rising up toward heaven.  Good liturgy uses the senses, it helps take us there, to the foot of the cross.  with only one candle burning, the church in total darkness, a woman’s voice sang “Were you there when they crucified my Lord.”  She was answered by a male’s voice somewhere else in the darkened church.  Each solitary voice asking the question “Were you there?”  And in that moment, I could say yes.

Seasonal Knitting – 4/9/17

I knit seasonally. When the weather gets warm, the big wool sweaters and afghans get put away and the cotton sweaters and summer cover ups come out. I always enjoy pulling out these projects after a little time away. I come at them with new perspective and with the hope that they will still be in style! Summer projects can get worked on for a few years since the season is so short in Rochester.
The temperature went up to 70 today, so I pulled out the “Long Beach Poncho Top” made with a ribbon type yarn. I saw a woman wearing this over a white tank top in a yarn shop in Florida. This was two years ago. I’m half way done. This is the year!

Just as I circle back to the same projects year after year, we circle back around to the same liturgies every year.  Today is Palm Sunday, where we celebrate the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.  We also read the Passion narrative since many people are unable to attend Good Friday.  This year, as I heard the Passion and shouted with the crowd crucify him, crucify him, I was struck by how the love of God shown to us in Jesus was so brutally rejected.

We all have moments where we reject God’s love.  We turn away from those who reach out to help, we resist the desire to pray, and we stop listening.  Fortunately for us, God never stops reaching out, God never stops listening to us, and God is always working to demonstrate God’s love for us even unto death on a cross.  Jesus walked to his death, not saying much, enduring the suffering, all to show that God’s love is there for all of us, no exceptions.  All we have to do is say yes to the offer.

Life lines – 4/7/2017

If you want to knit lace, especially complicated lace, you have to know how to put in a life line.  This is a piece of yarn (preferably a different color) that is put through the stitches on a row so if you make a mistake, you can take out the knitting to the life line.  Taking out lace is really difficult because of the yarn overs and other hard to identify stitches.

Unfortunately for us, in life it can feel like there are no life lines.  We can’t just unravel time back to a certain moment and then start again.  We have to move forward and deal with our mistakes. Some mistakes can be fixed by an apology, other mistakes take a process which may require asking for forgiveness, regaining trust and moving beyond the mistake but learning to live with it.

If our lives were a knitted fabric, we could see where we may have gotten away from our acceptable patterns of behaviors.  If we veered off course a lot, our fabric would be full of holes and bumps.  Maybe seeing these problems might help us get back on track.  And therein lies the key, our level of awareness.  It’s easy to drop a stitch and then 10 rows later, realize that we have a hole.  In knitting, this can be repaired, in life it may be harder to deal with the holes that we create.  With God, there is always forgiveness, always a life line being extended to help pull us back on track,  to help us experience the healing we need so we can continue.  These life lines manifest themselves in unlikely places, like a piece of scripture that enters the mind, the warm comforting hug from a friend, or the unexpected gift that arrives in the mail.

I slipped and fell in the snow today.  My eighteen month old grandson, looked at me and said “hand, hand” as he stuck out both of his little hands to help pull me up.  Thank God for life lines.

Short row shaping – 4/6/17

Short row shaping is a technique that allows the knitter to create curves and shapes.

I had never used this technique until I knit a sweater with a shawl collar.  It is really interesting to see how knitting three quarters of the row and then turning and knitting in the other direction creates the curve.

Changing direction in quick succession is like trying to field a curve ball.  But in this world, flexibility is the name of the game.  Jesus talked about a lamp unto our feet, just enough light to take the next step.  Taking the next step even if it is in a different direction than what we might have expected is key to following in the steps of Jesus.  We got a curve ball at the church last week when our Americorp member ending up having to leave after one day of work.  We were so excited to participate in the program but now we didn’t have anyone.  We put the word out and lo and behold we got a great person who agreed to join the team and work with us to put fresh vegetables into a challenged neighborhood.  One step forward, one step back and one step forward.  Just like the short row it may seem like we are just going back and forth but in reality we are creating a beautiful, functional curve that will bring us to where we want to go.

With a knitting pattern, we at least have a blueprint of what the end result is supposed to be.  In life, we may not know exactly where we are going or what is being created.  We have to travel by faith enduring the starts, stops and changes in direction that eventually leads us to where God is calling us.  But the light of Christ illumines our way giving us just enough to take one more step, one more risk, or try one more idea and eventually we find ourselves in a place we never would have thought possible.

 

Ease to fit – 4/5/17

Panic sets in when the realization hits that one side is longer than the other side and the two sides need to be sewn together.  Then  rereading of the directions and the dreaded “ease to fit” instructions.  this means that somehow, through lots and lots of pins, the longer side is eased into the short sides.  Easing creates puckers but the idea is to make the puckers as little as possible and evenly spaced.

The pictures above show the hood being eased onto the back of the sweater vest.

Easing is lot different than force fitting.  It requires patience, time, and finesse.  Sometimes we need to ease our way back into our lives.  We all experience events that can be disorienting – a loss, a betrayal, a divorce, or something unexpected.  Healing is the way to ease our way back.  It’s God’s love that pins us back together, that helps us fit back into our lives, that forges a seam between two different length sides.  Jesus was all about healing.  It was the primary mission of his ministry.  Healing happens in many ways – through prayer, through ministry, and through the love we experience from others.  As we get closer to Holy Week, I think about the love that Jesus showed as  he walked up the hill toward the cross.  He chose love over all things, even over his own life.  He chose love so we would know that love conquers all things.  Healing occurs when we acknowledge that we are loved by God and that, in the end, is all that matters.