It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….

You may remember this line from Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities’ and the infamous Madame Defarge’s knitting.

Today I was given an article entitled “Knitting through Recovery’ about using knitting as an experiential method to manage emotions in group therapy. The author describes a program in a substance abuse residential center where participants’ knitting led to improved self-esteem, created group cohesion, and fostered connection with community as well as personal creativity.

It reminded me of a hand hooked rug that lies in the bottom of my quilt chest. It is brown with orange and yellow flowers on it. My mother gave it to me after my father’s mother died. Mother told me that it was made by my grandmother when she was in her early 40’s. She hooked the rug during the months after her husband died from a fall out of the hayloft of the barn. Mother said it was part of her grief work.

It reminded me, too, of the summer of 1997, after a week’s hospitalization in a psychiatric unit. The months in recovery after the traumatic events of that time were difficult for me. But I recall finally getting up enough initiative to sew some valances for the 5 large windows and sliding glass doors in our sunroom. It was a daunting project for me at the time involving hanging wooden frames, pulling gathering tape, and lining yards and yards of a lovely Waverly floral fabric I purchased on closeout at a store going out of business. I recall hours and hours of sitting at the sewing machine in the sunroom doing a sewing task that was pretty formulaic and routine. It gave me a lot of time for my mind to mull over things while my hands stayed busy. During those hours, too, I prayed. I poured out my heart to the Lord. I felt Him there with me. And I felt Him speak to my heart about being patient, resting in Him, and waiting for the healing that was occuring.

When the project was complete, I felt a sense of accomplishment. The work itself had been therapeutic. But more than the work, I think it was the fact of passing the time, especially the solitary time spent communing with God. While my solitary task, like that of my grandmother, did not involve building community or fostering cohesion with a group, it did bring me closer to the Comforter who comes alongside us in our grief and who works His healing in our souls while our minds and hands are occupied with other tasks.

While at the moment I felt that time of my life was the worst of times, after the fact it has proven to have been one of the best of times in terms of my relationship with the Lord.