photo by Charles Edward Case

My grandmother was an amazing knitter. She had brilliant skill with all handicrafts, actually, and could embroider and quilt and sew clothes with the best. But when it came to knitting, she was the reigning and undisputed queen. There was nothing she didn’t know, and nothing she couldn’t create—seemingly without effort. Odds and ends of yarn would be transformed into something useful and surprisingly beautiful. She could go into a movie theater and emerge after the film with a completed pair of patterned mittens she had made, in the dark, during the show. When one of my cousins was asked by an elementary school teacher to name someone he admired, he wrote, “My grandmother, because she can smoke a cigarette, watch TV, drink sherry and knit a sweater all at the same time!”

Every one of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were the beneficiaries of her talent. Friends and colleagues were warmed through many winters with her handmade offerings. Because she was so prolific and because her work was so gorgeous, people were always telling her that she should go into business for herself. These suggestions were well meant. She had the talent and probably could have made some decent money with her work, but she always dismissed the idea whenever it came up. If pressed, she would say that she could only make something if she had someone specific in mind while she was doing it. Knitting for knitting’s sake wasn’t enough for her. She had to be motivated by feeling, by a sense of connection.

For my grandmother, creating was not a dangling modifier. The acts of taking raw materials, transforming them, and sharing the results all had to be inspired by a love both generous and intentional. So too with more expansive acts of creation, and Creation. In Advent, as we pay special attention to God’s creative work evolving within us and unfolding around us, let us remember the love that sustains that divine energy. And let’s give thanks for all the many ways God continually transforms the raw materials of our lives, leading us to gifts that surprise and sustain.