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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Knitting your way to heaven

The other day I asked a friend, somewhat in jest, "can one knit one's way to heaven?" Underneath the lightheartedness was a serious thought though. We all have different talents we're given. We should use them to help others and for the furthering of our salvation. There have been many people throughout history who were given great talents, even genius, and who used them for evil purposes. We do not have to posses genius in order to help others, however.

Matushka Olga Michael, wife of the departed Archpriest Nikolai O. Michael from the village of Kwethluk on the Kuskokwim River in Alaska, as described in Fr. Michael Oleksa's book, Orthodox Alaska, was neither a "physically impressive or imposing figure." She raised eight children to maturity, giving birth to several of them without a midwife. While her husband was away taking care of many other parishes, she kept busy raising her family and doing many things for other people. One is reminded of the story of Tabitha in the book of Acts (9:36-ff) when hearing that "[i]n addition to sewing Father Nikolai's vestments in the early years and crafting beautiful parkas, boots and mittens for her children, she was constantly sewing or knitting socks or fur outerwear for others. Hardly a friend or neighbor was without something Matushka had made for them.

Parishes hundreds of miles away received unsolicited gifts, traditional Eskimo winter boots ('mukluks') to sell or raffle for their building fund. All the clergy of the deanery wore gloves or woolen socks ...[which she] had made for them" (p. 203).

Do you have a talent? God has blessed each of us with unique gifts. Do not hide them under a bushel basket, but pull them out and use them to help others.

14 comments:

  1. What a lovely post! I struggle sometimes with my urge/need to create tactile things, and worry that I'm just contributing to the stuff-ism of our age, but this post puts it in a slightly different light for me. Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. Still thinking of you, lighting candles for Gabriel, and saying the Jesus prayer.

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  2. wonderful! we all can have a role!!! much love to you! lighting a new candle here too...

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  3. Thank you. I needed this. Somehow reading just this little bit of her life was inspiring to me and made me determined to find my strengths instead of lamenting my weaknesses, especially as a parent. Probably not exactly as "on topic" with the intention of this particular post as it could be, but I'll take encouragement wherever I can find it!

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    1. It's true though, that we don't have to be big, impressive people doing incredible things. We can do little things too.

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  4. Ha! I read your title and before reading your post, I immediately thought of Matushka Olga. Strange coincidences with her today - I prayed her akathist this morning. Things worked out that I could do so at the same time a monthly Orthodox prayer group prays this. She has been on my mind all day. Also the topic of simple acts of doing to help others - like a Tabitha, has been on my mind. Hand made knits not only warm the body but also the soul. - there is a link from the hands and heart that made them.

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    1. Yes, knitted items are more than just the sum of the yarn that makes them! (Obviously this goes for all hand-crafted items, including things like cards.) I know that there are saints who did similar things, but Mat. Olga is the person who leapt to mind this morning.

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  5. Faith without works is dead. Every year I knit many, many hats and give them away to help keep folks warm.

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    1. There's something wonderful about tactile love. Especially when we pray as we make things.

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  6. I love this. I often feel "trapped" in that I can't do as much for others in our church as I'd like, but then I realize I can cook. Currently I have meals in my freezer waiting for women in our church to give birth and the meal request to go out. Since I bring 4 children with me wherever I go I cannot always visit and be a help, but I can make a good meal and pray it lightens their load just a little.

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    1. We can all do *something*. Just contacting someone and letting them know we're praying for them is a big thing. And it's true too that in different seasons of our lives were are able to do different things.

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  7. This makes me think. I'm expecting baby number 2 in the fall, and in preparation I put all of my crafting/ yarn supplies away, or gave them away to friends. I haven't had time for them in years due to baby number 1 and graduate school, which I've since completed. It felt like my pursuits were a waste of space. I definitely feel flashes of bitterness or even malaise, thinking about how I would love to have a hobby of my own. Maybe I can make time for that-- even if it's just crocheting wash cloths.

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    1. Just pointing out that a hand-crocheted washcloth and a little bar of soap make a lovely little care package for anyone in any kind of distress. :) Or for Christmas presents! Something that size is very portable and you can take it with you to work on while you're in periods of unavoidable wait. It's very satisfying to create something and might help that feeling of malaise you described. :)

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