On Knitting Your Life

17 03 2013

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Retired people are the best teachers. They’ve figured out the secret of living a good life and leaving a legacy.

I’ve had occasion to think about the broader view the past few days. A dear friend who spent his adult years helping others, and who welcomed everyone who walked through the doors of our church, died last week. He was the definition of hospitality. Everything he did was intentional, and if I had to describe him in three words, I would say he paid attention.

A saintly lady who is nearly 93 and is a valued friend and resource for understanding
European history (and, consequently, my family’s history), is also impacting my life view. She personifies selflessness. As a young woman she was part of the resistance in war-ravaged Netherlands during WWII, and to this day she speaks to children, young people and adults about the importance of non-discrimination. Her heart is with all the downtrodden, no matter their situation. She is accepting.

Since the age of five I’ve been a knitter, with several projects in the works at any given time. The process is second nature, something I can do while watching television, conversing, riding in a car, listening to music…any time I have a spare minute. It’s calming, comfortable, easy. . . until I make a mistake. Then it gets frustrating, challenging, hard.

Life is like knitting. When you get to the end you want to be able to look at the finished product and be proud of what you’ve made with the materials at your disposal. There are thousands of stitches in the piece you’ve made, and though each single stitch seems insignificant, each is attached to the next to create a unique and amazing result. The mistakes (and there will be mistakes) are what make it special, personal.

Think of your days as those knitted stitches, some done without much thought attached, some labored over with great care because of their intricate difficulty, some bungled and needing unraveling. Some days are easy, effortless, simple. Others are difficult, painful, impossible.

I know Ted lived his life well. He wasn’t perfect, but he learned how to be the best Ted he could be. I know Diet is still contributing to the lives of others, probably more than she should at her age, but she strives daily to give whatever she can. There were mistakes in her life, too, but she has learned and grown from them.

I hope that when my life is done, others will see it as having been worthwhile, mistakes and all. I hope to leave a legacy, although the benchmarks left by Ted, and those Diet still works on, will be tough to equal. If someone can look at my life and recognize the beauty in it and the worth of it, I will have done it well.

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