When I was a beginning, baby beader, I didn’t know that there are many brands and qualities of beads, so I have acquired a plethora of beads; some better than others. In the midst of Day 1 of Contemplative
Knitting Beading, reflecting on Julie’s thoughtful commentary about what God needs to pull out of us, to unknot, to remake. . . . I was working on one of several unfinished projects through which I will pray this Lent. These beads are not of the highest quality. The sizes are uneven, making them unsuited for any number of designs. They are – horror of horrors! – imperfect. They are imperfect like me. They don’t fit together well, like I rarely fit with other people. Like Mr. Darcy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, “I am ill-qualified to recommend myself to strangers.” – or even to myself at times. They are misfits.
But I committed this Lent to opening my heart to the work of God through this attentive, contemplative process, to listening to whatever parable might surface from the work in front of me, so started once again on this simple, twisted necklace which doesn’t require perfect beads to be attractive. It requires some patience and a little concentration, but allows inner stillness and listening. Maybe I should have chosen a more complex project that blocks inner listening, because what I heard made me uncomfortable. A very Lentish start to Lent.
“If you can find a use for flawed beads, what makes you think I can’t find a use for your flaws?” “Instead of falling into the trap – again – of trying to change all the things you don’t like about yourself in six short weeks, why don’t you accept that I love you and am working within you and that you have much to give because I gave it to you?” In other words, get over yourself. Or something like that.
Beading can be graciously humbling. Each new technique has to be learned slowly, carefully. Even when you think you finally have the new method in your fingers, you can find yourself frogging, re-doing, re-learning over and over. Sometimes you just have to set it aside, (I can be grumpy and self-pitying about that.) Sometimes you pick it up, try again and set it aside again. But eventually something “clicks” and you wonder what the fuss was about.
Here’s my guess. The grace is in the “fuss”. It’s in the struggle, frustration and pricked fingers. It is in slowing down, “listening to the beads” as one teacher put it. It’s like trying to do pray “right” instead of receiving prayer as a gift and knowing that the prayer is more in being present, struggling to focus, failing and trying again, even choosing to endure boredom than in those fleeting moments of . . . something. The wisdom of Leonard Cohen sums it up:
“Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack, a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
Bio – Sister Diana Doncaster, aka the nun2good, is an Episcopal priest and member of the Community of the Transfiguration in Cincinnati, Ohio. Once upon a time, she was given a a lovely, simple seed bead bracelet. That was all it took. She had to figure out how to make it. She discovered Pinterest. She discovered Facebook beading sites. She met a friend who taught her new stitches. But a Sister vowed to poverty, chastity and obedience must have a good reason for creating jewelry. After all, she wears a habit most of the time (except while in isolation during COVID which just goes on and on and on.) So since she has long been sold on the idea of micro-loans and micro-finance as superb ways to help people help themselves, she decided that any proceeds from selling her beadwork will go to Episcopal Relief and Development’s Microfinance program. https://www.episcopalrelief.org/program/micro-finance/ She continues to live in that odd space among three mottos: “Benignitas, Simplicitas, Hilaritas” (Kindness, Simplicity, Joy), the motto of the Community of the Transfiguration; “There is no such thing as too many books or beads”; and “No outfit is complete without cat hair”. That last is the gift of her feline companion, a Siberian Forest cat named Motka who loves to “help” with just about everything.
Project Update: Pattern rows 3-10 of Pattern #56 Japanese Stitch Bible