Jeremiah, Knit Without Ceasing


Thinking about Proper 25B

My neighbor is having a baby. Last night I thought she might be quite literally having it, and when Sam woke me in the middle of the night to go outside I checked to see if there were updates on Facebook. That's the world in which we live. (No baby as of this moment.)

The other day I saw her driving her car and I remembered that due to my general shortness, I reached a point in each pregnancy where I had to put the seat back so far that I could no longer reach the gas pedal or the brake. I became a foot-only traveler, awkward and over-filled. The first time I remember being driven to work–I think I worked until two days before–and moving carefully, as if I were carrying an unexploded bomb. The second time I couldn't go anywhere without setting off Braxton-Hicks contractions and my blood pressure, normally 90 over 60, rose to some other ridiculously low level, but I felt like the top of my head was going to come off, and the doctor suggested I cut my half-time work hours to quarter-time. The third time, as a first-year seminarian, I had heartburn right up to my ears and a growing dependence on cherry-vanilla Maalox, and I felt fortunate that the non-driving portion of the pregnancy came after the end of the school year.

I couldn't get around much.

For thus says the LORD: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and
raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and
say, "Save, O LORD, your people, the remnant of Israel." See, I am
going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from
the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame,
those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they
shall return here. With weeping they shall come, and with consolations
I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a
straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a
father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
(Jeremiah 31:7-9, NRSV)

I remember feeling vaguely abashed after the unnecessary trip to the hospital with Snowman. A week later he arrived, convincingly, the rush of water coming just as we entered the birthing room, the contractions hard and sharp, like being thrown through the giant window across from the bed, then snapped back to reality.

Really, I couldn't have gone anywhere.

There are so many ways we may feel lame or blind or in labor or with child, uninspired or without a vision or working through things and not able to act just yet, not finished producing what feels so important, waiting for one more conclusion or one more affirmation. 

Are you in the middle of something, wondering how to get to the next stop on the journey, wondering if you can even sling your pack on your back to go?

Now Facebook tells me that my neighbor has gone to playgroup with her daughter and will try to have a normal day.

Yesterday I gave her a present, the Log Cabin style blanket that was my happy knitting project for much of the summer. In a brown paper shopping bag I have all the leftovers of the yarn. At the time I had some plans for them, but I didn't know until I finished how much would remain. These remnants of washable cotton will not make a blanket, but taken together, they will make something; they will create a whole. I can't see what yet–a doll blanket? a washcloth?

In my twenties and thirties, when my children were little, I felt like those ends, like the majority of me had gone into making those children and nurturing them, and I wondered what could be made of what was left of me. Every time I moved out into the world, children yanked me back again. (Perhaps this is sacrilegious talk for a mother.) It may sound funny to group expectant mothers with the disabled, but only the most Amazonian among us would not understand how it feels to carry the weight of another person, to carry the hopes and the fears, to carry the love and the questions.  

And at 48, I am still hopeful of seeing what sort of whole can be made with my remnants.

6 thoughts on “Remnants”

  1. Oh, me too! Me too! Thank you for this… I feel like I spend most of my life in a state of perpetual Advent, constantly pulled between “Already” and “Not Yet.” I constantly paw through bags of remnants, wondering how to make something whole. Yet there is the Holy Spirit, always fluttering at the edges with its dark/bright wings… I think God works sometimes like a raven, swooping in to gather up the fragments, to feather a nest with all the bright shiny things we’ve abandoned, and to recycle/reclaim everything we’ve deemed beyond the reach of Grace.

  2. so thoughtful. I love hearing the birth and pregnancy stories–I live vicariously thru those. and your remnants…are stellar and precious.

  3. One of my old friends said the exact same thing to me two days ago: that having a child made her feel completely disabled, regardless of how much she loves her child.

  4. There is helpful language to be found here for me. In some ways I feel like the remants from my divorce and my family of origin are now gathered here in this new place and I wonder if it is enough to make a whole. Certainly in the new call there is not enough of me to go around, so what – and who – needs to be covered.
    Thank you.

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