Lately, I’ve just had to push myself to find goodness, find beauty, find any amount of energy. Parenting and homeschooling are hard work. Living in another country can be hard work. (It can also be a fun adventure.) Being eight months pregnant and iron-depleted is also hard work.
I manage to feed and educate the children and do the fun Christmas traditions they’re used to, but I’ve really had to force myself to do much more than that. I’ve been working on double-stranded scarves for the last week or two. I’ve made eight so far for the teens/young adults we work with, and I have theoretically 13 to go. Michael initially had a count of 15 boys that he works with, and then it ended up being 21 total, so I may have to order yet more yarn to get them all done. (They may end up being New Year’s scarves, depending on children/health/yarn supply/shipping.)
Michael handed out one wrapped scarf to a young asylum seeker that he mentors, and the young man was so shocked to have been given a present. His eyes started to tear up, and his face was filled with joy. He didn’t expect anything, and he didn’t know what Christmas gifts were.
This is why.
I have photos, but I can’t share them in order to protect the privacy of this young man. But they make me cry every time I look at them.
To know that a couple of hours of time, a few balls of yarn and approximately 3500 stitches could tell a boy that he was cared for and valued and that people see him as a person and not as a helpless case. It’s immensely humbling that my hands could be used that way, and it fills me with awe and a sense of sober purpose when I sit down to work. It reminds me that little hobby of mine can be holy work. Just like faithfulness in doing laundry, cooking supper, and scrubbing toilets is holy work.
Too often we separate things that are “sacred” and things that are “ordinary.” It brings to mind the snatch of Wendell Berry that I often quote.
There are no unsacred places;Wendell Berry
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
But even though I quote it so often to myself, I still forget that everyday work is a chance to breathe and worship in a sacred place. It’s a chance to practice gratitude. It’s a chance to bend my knee. And more importantly, it’s easy to forget that if I don’t make it into a sacred place, it might become a desecrated place.
I don’t share this story to toot my own horn. I share it as a bit of a journal to remind myself that this work that I have the privilege to do can indeed make the world a more beautiful place. And to remind you, too, that wherever you are found today….it can be a sacred place.
I’ll close with a quote from Brother Lawrence, who some call the Kitchen Saint because in the monastery he served in, he had the oh-so-glamorous-job of washing dishes. But he found that he was able to experience a vivid and powerful relationship with God because he was able to spend time doing little things while acknowledging the presence of God.
We ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.Brother Lawrence
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