Tuesday, December 22, 2009



doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over

and again

I'm beginning to pay attention to the beauty of repetition. If you knit one stitch and it's a knot. But if you do that 50,000 times and purl some too, you end up with art that you can wear or warm yourself with.

If you play a sour chord once, it's a mistake. But do it a couple times over eight measures and it's jazz.

The sun rises every single day, rain or shine, heart breaking or soaring, in failure or triumph.

Humans may not be very skilled at consistency, but we certainly need it more than we let on.
I think we have a couple of different reasons for undervaluing repetition, such as:

~"the definition of an idiot is someone who does the same thing over again and expects different results." (Einstein? someone smart)

we fear destructive ruts. as well we should.
Addiction exists, and that in itself can make the thought of any repetition frightening.

~Our hearts restlessly look for new things, and our minds need to feast on new concepts, ideas, hopes, dreams

but I still haven't found what I'm looking for.
(U2... and the whole human race. Even if we search after God, we are still in the shadowlands and long for Jesus and His Kingdom to fully come.)
we all long.

I guess more than anything, patterns are powerful. They can destroy or transform a life and the world--for the patterns of our lives always intertwine, either in painful knots or in something truly lovely.

Growing up is a process of realizing that there are powerful patterns in place--call them laws or grace or music--and something does hold the stars apart and the planets in harmony.
At first, we children don't quite trust the pattern of days and months, and Christmas may never EVER EVER come. If a parent leaves the room they may not ever come back.

And so we cry.

As we grow older we (at least presume to) get a handle on time and days, and can focus our energies on breaking OUT of the pattern in which we find ourselves. Then, upon success, we try to figure out how the heck one creates a new pattern!

Maybe eventually we come full circle, realizing that the patterns of life are constantly being created, and nothing is for certain.
Sometimes Christmas won't come for your loved one that died in the fall. Sometimes parents don't come back.

Then living consciously becomes what it always has been-- a gift that requires oceans of courage and grace and love--
none of it our own.

sometimes in the dead of winter we need more of it--love--grace--God--to sustain even the simple ongoing patterns of life.

even if Jesus was born in the summer, I'm glad that Christmas is in the bleak midwinter.

in the bleak midwinter
frosty winds made moan
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone
snow had fallen,

snow on snow
snow on snow.
In the bleak midwinter

long ago.

what can I give him,
poor as I am
if I were a shepard, I would give a lamb.
if I were a wise man I would do my part
yet what can I give him: give my heart.

(In the Bleak Midwinter)

1 comment:

  1. I like your thoughts, Stacia. I think my 'lesson of the brass'. Here is what I wrote years ago in my ongoing autobio - or sort of reflection on my life:

    During these years [at sea in the Coast Guard] I learned what I call the "lesson of the brass." As a ship's quartermaster, one of the jobs is to keep the brass polished on the bridge. This is a daily chore. The gleaming brass work is soon tarnished, especially in rough weather. Yet daily, for no one other than those who will be on the bridge, the brass is polished. Through this I learned something that is difficult to put into words. There is great value in caring for something day by day. There is great worth to be found in repetitive, hard, honest work. There is a meaning to life that is difficult to grasp.

    Years later, during seminary training, I talked with a pastor from another church in the town. He was talking about his plot of land up in New Hampshire. How he so enjoyed and found value in caring for a plot of land that God has entrusted to him.

    I think of this lesson when I saw my mother leading activities for Alzheimer's patients. She takes great care to give these dear folks activities, often doing the same thing day by day. She realizes that most of the folks cannot remember from one day to the next. Yet, my mother finds fulfillment in her work, in caring for those entrusted to her.

    I think of the lesson now when I need to do the daily chores of my job, the things that don't seem terribly important in the course of history. There is value and meaning in honest work, no matter how menial it may seem.