When I'm doing well and feeling good, Sundays can be such a delight. I begin with my usual morning routine -- dark, hot, rich coffee and my Morning Pages, cozy in the early dark under a quilted throw, with a candle lit on the table before me and a good lamp burning brightly over my right shoulder. I follow these pages with a few notes in my Gratitude Journal. There was a time when I thought both of these tools were silly, touchy-feely, New Age-y things, but as I 've made a habit of using them, I've come to realize how good they are for my mental and emotional health. In them I first release all the worries (petty and not-so-petty), all the drivelling and snivelling I tend to build up inside, and then I take a look at my blessings, which are, really, what's most genuine and important in life.
After the Writing comes the Reading. Right now I'm working my way through a daily devotional that is simply reflection on a series of related scriptures, a different theme chosen for each day. I follow this with a short excerpt from an inspiring book; right now this is First Light by Sue Monk Kidd.
Today I began the chapter entitled "Simplicity of Spirit" which, by its very title, is both a reminder and an inspiration. Like Sue, I have come through life events that are "...exfoliating. They shuck me down to some place that is thick with luminosity and resilience, an enduring inner ground." In other words, when we endure trial or come through a rigorous program of spiritual discipline, we come to understand (rather like The Velveteen Rabbit) that which is real. Kidd writes, "It's as if the foreground of life, where we spend the majority of our time, fades away, and we are left in the great background that is God, against which all life exists."
All I can add is, how right she is! And when I glimpse Real life, I find myself, like C.S. Lewis, surprised by joy.
Today is such a day. I went to church where I worshipped, studied, learned, celebrated, communed with God, shared food and drink and good conversation. Now I am home, listening to the most beautiful music (the CBC's Sunday Afternoon in Concert has been featuring that of Mendelssohn and Schumann in their bicentennial years), and catching up with my online reading and correspondence. I am in that place of beauty, joy and delight in all that is in my life, and it would take a great deal to shake my equanimity.
Part of the celebration of this morning was giving my dear friend, L, the prayer shawl I'd made her for her Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate (Anglican) next week. The pattern I selected was the "Seven Sacraments" shawl from The Prayer Shawl Companion by Janet Bristow and Victoria Cole-Galo. I have been
knitting like mad for the past 6 weeks -- ever since we learned the Ordination was going ahead -- and I finished it last night, laundered it, and added the fringes this morning.
Some shawl patterns can be very boring and monotonous, but to date, I've found that the patterns in this book are not so. This one was easy to memorize, but used a combination of threes and fours -- garter stitch, seed stitch, stocking stitch, and a simple lace -- that was both fascinating and spiritually meaningful. Like those yarns that are self-striping, I wanted to keep knitting to see what the next section of the pattern would bring. I measured my progress according to where I was in the pattern, assigning partial or whole sections to be completed in a given sitting, which made working to a deadline much more enjoyable.
Knitting Notes: For this project I used "Sonata" from the Endless Summer Collection, available once upon a time from elann.com. It knits up easily, and is completely machine launder-able, coming out soft and light, all of its pre-wash stiffness gone. I also used a 5 millimetre circular needle; in this case, Addie Turbos. The only tricky bit in the pattern is the "YO, k2tog*" section. If you, in haste, drop a stitch in this section, be prepared to frog. There's little else you can do because of the nature of that hole-y lace pattern! (I know this from experience on this project!!)
On Other Fronts...
I've been working in my studio, creating a series of small quilted pieces based on the natural sights and sounds of the countryside around me. I have been journalling this on my wiki page at The Visioning Project, under the auspices of SAQA University; I'm not ready to share this work here. However, I am also investigating website development, and when that comes to fruition there will a link, never fear.
Now I am in the thick of constructing Christmas gifts. Because my DD reads this blog, that's all I'm going to say about that... except to add that I love to give a combination of commercial/monetary gifts and handmade ones at Christmas. It gives me a chance to put my heart into the season in a deeper and richer way.
My DS has arranged to have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, and will be making the trek up here -- 5 hours' driving each way, not counting stops. That alone is a gift for me, as he accompanies me to church on Christmas Eve and we revel in the old hymns and the glorious story of the Incarnation. My DD will be here for The Day, and I am hoping my sis can join us too. Diesel-cat will make a fuss over the tree and the treats he might find under the table. Whatever the weather, we'll be cozy inside. I hope for and look forward to a rosy glow of family feeling, good food, happy memories and much laughter, followed by a good night's sleep at the end of the Very Best Day of the year.
This week my American friends experience some of this early festive, ward-off-the-dark, count-your-blessings season, as they celebrate their Thanksgiving. Best wishes, all of you, for safe travel, for happiness and health, and for the gift of giving and sharing the holiday with others -- the discovery of that which is Real. :-)