By Rev. Patti Blaine
(Fresh off the needles – Carissa Browning’s “Dissent Cowl,” knit with Spun Right Round Squish DK in “Reaper’s Rags” and “Walk like a Cat, Talk like a Fish” colorways.)
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth. (Psalm 139.13-15 NRSV)
The Psalm I read most frequently to patients is not the twenty-third. Surprising, yes? Instead, it is Psalm 139. Most of my patients are facing the realization that something has come undone in their bodies and that they were and are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” They are less concerned with how they will walk “through the valley of the shadow of death” than they are with figuring out a new way to walk – period – whether that is with a new cancer diagnosis, a double amputation, or limitations brought on by a massive stroke or a heart transplant.
The second half of verse 13 in Psalm 139 speaks to me each time I read it. “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” God knits! Further, according to the last line of verse 15, God weaves! And God does so “intricately.” When a patient’s unraveling requires my support, we explore together the “awe” of God’s handwork and contemplate new ways of being that incorporate that sense of awe, even in newfound but survivable brokenness.
Today is the Feast of the Annunciation, the day we celebrate the angel Gabriel’s disruption of Mary’s life, announcing that the Spirit of God will impregnate her. God will knit together a baby who is to be called Jesus; God will intricately weave her son in secret, incorporating God-self into human form. Imagine Gabriel’s astonishment. Imagine Mary’s! And imagine God’s gleeful joy – knitting a pattern God knows very well and knitting God-self up into it in a new and astonishing way.
I often begin my morning meditation with these thoughts, contemplating the mystery of a knitting God even as I knit. Some mornings I wonder what Mary thought and did as her child was being formed, hidden in her depths. Did she work with her hands? What did she make? Her song tells us that she knew God was making and doing something new within her. May God, through Mary’s extraordinary son, continue to knit us together and make us whole.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.
(Canticle 15, pp. 91-92, The Book of Common Prayer)
Patti is a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY, and a per diem chaplain at three area hospitals. Currently, she is a full-time student at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, working on a master’s degree in Religious Studies. In her spare time (and during some classes), she knits.
Pattern rows 19-26 of Pattern #26 of the Japanese Stitch Bible