Friday, September 25, 2009

Another view on mind, body, spirit knitting

Jenn has a new blog to share, "Namaste & Knitting", bringing together her yoga practice with fiber art. Check her out!
Congrats, Jenn!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Still tied up

Just finished my first paper for my Center/Learn "History of Christianity" class. Feeling a little smug about it, as a matter of fact...
Early reviews are pretty strong.

"I think it is BEAUTIFUL!"
"Your style and insight are refreshing!"
"Brilliant...academic without being pretentious...deeply thinking, yet accessible."

A little feedback is good...
Okay,full disclosure... the reviews are from three very close friends. I'd like to believe they would not give it to me with both barrels if it was not good. I know they are wonderfully supportive of me and a little biased in my favor, no doubt. But I'll take it.

My paper is on Julian of Norwich and her frequent references to knitting as illustrations of concepts such as the Trinity, being knit together as a faith community, or in relationship with God. (see previous post.)

Knitting has been used in church art for centuries. A Google search of "knitting Madonnas" comes up with a variety of beautiful examples. Our friends at Lion Brand Yarn have a wide selection of e-cards with lovely art that feature knitting, often a child or woman knitting. They also have a knitting madonna, credited there as the oldest image of knitting we know of. Very cool.

Art, knitting, faith...

Even though I've finished with my paper on Julian of Norwich, I'm not finished with Julian. I've just started enjoying getting to know her, and many other Christian women considered mystics. Birgitta of Sweden, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila...

Wonder if those other women knit?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Julie & Julia" and "Laura & Julian"

I have been up to my elbows in yarn, using all free moments to knit scarves for the upcoming Mayflower Community Holiday Gift Boutique. Skeins of yarn from stashes all over Mayflower have made their way to my home. I've only made six. The Boutique is Saturday, October 3, in the Friendship Hall at the UCC.

For the same weekend I need to have finished "Christianity" by Roland Bainton, covering the period of church history from The Reformation to today... and my biography on Julian of Norwich, 14th Century English mystic who is largely credited as the first woman to write a book in the English language. Julian was an anchorite, which is sort of like a hermit, only she is "anchored" in the world, rather than separated from it.

Appropriate that I have chosen to study Julian. I've been to Norwich, England a couple of times and the next time I go, I have a new place to visit and enjoy. Also, Julian frequently used knitting as an illustration for intertwining souls, the Trinity, being knit together with God... no wonder I'm so intrigued by her.

What's the best use of my study break time? Try to do two things at once. I seriously thought about taking my knitting to the movies to see "Julie & Julia" with a group of women last week...but decided against it. I can knit at the movies. (I actually have needles with a tiny light in the tip, given to me by a friend. My kids use them mostly for wizard wands...)

Feeling motivated, in a small way, by "Julie & Julia," to start dreaming up my writing assignment about Julian... (Lots of Julia, Julian, Julie derivatives here...)

Julie Powell decides to write a blog and thinks that it would be interesting to make all 500+ recipes in Julia Child's, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in one year, and to share her journey in the blogosphere. The film goes back and forth between Julie and Julia at the time Julia is learning to cook and writing her first cookbook. Definitely worth seeing. A great love story, too.

I'm not suggesting that I start following Julian's anchorite lifestyle. I won't lock myself into a cell and spend my days praying, meditating, and writing an incredible book of Revelations. A book that outlines the 16 or so visions that Julian had at a time when she was deathly ill. She survived this incredible illness, even after being given the Last Rites, and at that time decided to become an anchorite.

Even Julie Powell found that something as wonderful as cooking amazing French food 365 days started to test her mettle. And, that sounds much more appealing than solitary confinement.

What I will do is to continue to read about Julian and tackle the Revelations, written in Middle English. Fortunately, I have a friend who can help me decipher the language if I get stuck!

I find that Julian's words are just as relevant today as they were nearly 700 years ago. She lived through the time when the plague ravished England. Life was beyond difficult. And still she believed these words, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing, shall be well." May it be so.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

And on the seventh day...

Our neighbors are really lovely people. They are retired and enjoy our children coming to visit, to play games, and a good reason to stock plenty of ice cream treats in the freezer. They are more conservative in their views. One Sunday, I mowed the backyard. Looked great and it was a great workout! The next week, my neighbor used his riding mower to cut the back yard on Saturday for me. My guess is that he did it on Saturday, so I wouldn't have to do it on Sunday. He gave me a greater gift than just getting the yard cut. He gave me my Sabbath back. A practice of mine that had fallen by the wayside a few years ago, but my neighbor reminded me through his act of kindness how wonderfully restorative keeping the Sabbath really is.

I realize it is a luxury for many. But for me now, Sunday mornings are workdays at church, and the rest of the day is spent taking a good nap, spending time with my family, reading, knitting, doing anything but work. I've been doing this for several weeks now and it is a great way of keeping a sense of balance in my life. I'm finding it to be just what my soul needs. Imagine that.

This afternoon, Emily and spent a couple of hours curled up sleeping together in the sun. How many more times will I get to do that with my child?