Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dropped a stitch

Technology and knitting. Each has its advantages. But in knitting, if I drop a stitch, it's my fault. Miscalculate the gauge, my fault. With technology, it's never my fault. I now have two blog posts on my laptop, not posted. The laptop refuses to connect to my wireless router. The battle I did with it on the weekend was so frustrating that I wanted to stab myself in the eyeball with the nearby knitting needle. Now that would have been my fault. I wrote those two entries, but now having processed the weekend more fully, they seem out of date, frail compared to the strength of what I am currently thinking. Monday comes and goes, and still no luck with the wireless connection. I'm on my son's iBook. But sometimes a lack of connectivity via wireless forces one to seek different types elsewhere. It started Friday. I was leaning my chin on my hands at my desk, the last one in the office other than the cleaning staff. The vacuum cleaner was approaching. I had had plans to meet a dear friend, but her in-laws had arrived unexpectedly, and she couldn't go out. Story of my life ... best laid plans. Everyone tells me to plan, but truly, my life is ruled by serendipity. Because that's what defined Friday night and the following weekend, and there is nothing I could have planned that would have improved what occurred. A new email appeared on my screen. Okay, no Karen, but instead an email. A sorry comfort, I thought, until I read its one line message, and became intrigued. Minutes later, I was on the telephone with this unknown person, discovering all that I had in common with someone I'd never met in person. He was looking for some information on a common project. And there I was, stumbling through a conversation in which we tripped into unexpected territories, learning that we are both Unitarians with liberal views -- as opposed to Unitarians with conservative views?? -- and a bit worn down by life that day. He'd had his plans cancelled, too. The next day, over lunch, we found out that we have the same color eyes, a passion for equity and justice, and the belief that gratuitous meanness should be punishable by law. All of this doesn't seem so extraordinary, perhaps. But what was happening? A new color was being introduced into the fabric of my life. On Sunday morning, I sat with the other members of the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg choir, fondly called "The Unisingers," in the church we share with another congregation on the second Sunday of the month. This new practice is the effort of a mainly white congregation from an A-frame church just out of the city of Harrisburg to serve a less white neighborhood, a less privileged population, offering them dignity as well as charity. I had considered it folly. Barriers, I have learned through working at a school district that is 85% African American and 10% Latino, are not so easily broken, no matter how well-intentioned either party may be. How astonished I was to hear from a few speakers at the service that day that the second Saturday breakfasts are working very well. Hundreds are coming out to be served breakfast and get to know our congregation. Neighbors are welcoming us with open arms. Activists and social service people in the community are befriending us. Our minister had said that serving in this community would save no one but ourselves ... but I was seeing differently that morning. I saw that with every new contact made, more than two people were being saved. It would spread, just as surely as every successful connection made through my work has a ripple effect, as well. And next to me, my fellow second alto was weaving yellow into the blue of her sock. I've worked on cables, complicated patterns for suits that fit infants, turned the heel of a sock, built the thumb of a mitten. But I've never worked a color pattern. Megan said she could show me. I loved the alternating colors, knit together tightly. Leaving the church, I recognized my new friend standing at the door. He'd come to my Unitarian service instead of his. He'd heard the motivating speakers. The idea our congregation was making a reality, despite naysayers like myself, may now travel further. And the sparkling color in his eyes and my excitement to see him were blended with my gratitude for the spiritual experience I'd just had, and the additional moving blending of our voices with those of a Gospel group from the community. It was a multicolored morning. One of beauty, and joy.

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