Monday, January 14, 2008

~ the discipline of tension ~

I have such good intentions of becoming a knitter. I can see myself, curled up in a big comfy chair, sippin' a big mug of coffee, listening to bluegrass and creating some cozy something-or-other out of yarn and sticks. My delusions of creative granduer are never ending.

Several years ago, Angelika and I purchased learn-to-knit-your-own-scarf kits from Target for $10 a piece. Her scarf turned out nicely, and my yarn and sticks fit snugly into my to-do box. More recently, Keisha has been attending a knitting group up at Wild Oats twice a week, and has already completed a project. I keep planning to start attending, digging my scarf-making relics out of their hiding place, but "stuff" tends to get in the way. Take, for instance, the next session this Sunday evening - I have to go listen to the Bishop of Rwanda instead... there's always something.

Turns out that there's alot more to knitting than casting and purling (I figured as much). The site I stumbled on today had a great deal to say about the art of balanced tension:
Tension is the measure of the number of stitches and rows that make up a certain area. It’s the foundation of a knitting pattern and correct tension is the most important discipline of knitting.
Tension is not a wrong or right thing. It is simply the only way to ensure that what the pattern writer intended is the same as what you will make. You may think, after reading all this stuff, that tension is important. You are right!

Tension is apparently not as simple as "pulling tight", it has to do with measuring length and width, what size needles you use, the texture of the stitch... there are many factors to consider. An item may appear to have the proper tension in the beginning, but the final product will be determined by how carefully you considered all of the initial factors.

Last night in our LifeGroup, we ended up talking about forgiveness, and underlying that topic was a discussion of the tension in relationships. We talked about how the art of forgiveness is bound up in how disciplined we are in the fruits of the Spirit. When our souls are bound up in pursuit of the Spirit, and evidence of that relationship is being produced in lives... Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentlesness, Self Control... forgiveness comes out of us more readily, because it is emerging from the Spirit of God, rather than our own spirit of bitterness and revenge.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)

In the same way, tension is going to be held in a healthy balance the tighter we are clinging to the vine of our Father. The existence of tension in our lives is not necessarily the problem. A certain degree of stretching leads to growth and, quite honestly, is inevitable. However, too much tension can cause strain, and not enough can cause the garment to fall apart (neither of those seems a desirable option). We can not rely on feelings at any individual moment to ensure our tension is in balance - we have to be disciplined enough to make sure all of the little details (here, the fruits of our relationship to the Spirit) are in line. Abide. Embrace the tension. Trust.

Tension (Nina Landis)
I've been thinking about feelings that we often tuck away
I've been thinking of the reasons that we often look away
He made us to be lovers
He made us to be servants of His house
He made us to be leaders and givers and seekers and feelers
And the ones who extend a touch of Him
And there's a tension within
And I've been thinking how the world keeps on leading
All our selfish nature into the pit of mass destruction
And I've been thinking how the media keeps on feeding
Every selfish want, every selfish need, every selfish thought
So when the widow needs a covering
And when the orphan needs a family
When the poor are starving
We tend to look the other way
But if you recognize the tension
And if you acknowledge the frustration in your soul,
Pause long enough to listen to who you are,
To what you're made for,
To who you are, To what you're made for,
Why you're here and what's your purpose,
Who you could be if you'd surrender
To who you are and what you're made for
It's bigger than you, It's bigger than me,
It's bigger than want, It's bigger than need,
It's bigger than us
Go ahead and listen
Embrace the tension
Then rise up and do something, anything in response
Rise up and do something
Rise up and respond
Let go of your control, Your structure and your systems
And respond
Will you respond?
Will you let go?
Will you surrender to your nature
To love much and give much,
Touch those who need a touch from Him,
Be his hands and feet,
Be his very voice
To those who are saved
And those who are perishing
Be the fragrance of God in the earth
To those who are saved
And those who are perishing
The fragrance of Jesus, the Savior of man
You're more than His child
You're His lover, His friend
A counterpart in all things
Go ahead and surrender


Ines said...

Love these thoughts. I remember when I was 15 years old (yes, long time ago, yet still a crazy young age to be doing this...). I was interpreting for a doctor in some impoverished village up in the mountains of Nicaragua...he knew I wanted to be a doctor- that I lived, breathed, ate, thought about medicine all day long- it consumed me. So he showed me how to stitch up a patient, and the next time he let me do it all by myself. Beautiful twists and turns of the curved needle, with the black stitches contrasting brown skin, cutting the extra thread, making a knot, making a double-knot, and then he said for the first knot: tension is important, do it strong, but don't strangle; the 2nd knot would secure what you did first, and if you strangled, it would leave a thick scar, but if you were strong & gentle, the scar would eventually disappear naturally....tension! SO important in stitches, knitting, friendships, being fruitful. *nod and take a sip of hot tea*

Anonymous said...

Excellent metaphor.