After months of knitting, I aimed my finished sweater at the trashcan beneath sink. My Grandmother Sonja’s hand on my arm stopped me.
“Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” (Leonard Cohen, Anthem)
It was my first knitting project, a sweater out of off-white fisherman’s yarn, with a plain back and multiple diamonds of different stitches on the front, ribbing at the wrists and around the bottom of the body. I presented it to the family gathered at my grandmother’s house with the delight that comes with a finished project. She and I agreed it was a masterpiece.
Forget your perfect offering.
I had taught myself to knit out of the encyclopedia. No one in our family knitted. We all crocheted. We crocheted doilies, scarves, potholders, baby bonnets, dresses, and booties, fashioned filet crochet for lace and pillow fronts, and pastel granny squares for baby shower gifts, even the filet crochet hearts hanging in my window. We all crocheted.
My great-grandmother, Hulda, known to us as Mommie, had started a crocheted bedspread years ago. Mommie had handed over the popcorn squares done in crochet thread to my mother years ago to finish. I enjoyed crochet, but wanted to learn to use two needles and not just the single hook. More patterns were available.
There is a crack in everything.
I learned about life through books, the birds and the bees, cannibals in South America, tropical diseases and knitting. I learned to knit from the World Book encyclopedia.
While I was displaying my sweater to anyone who came near, I met a knitter. She told me the whole sweater was wrong, wrong, wrong. My every purl stitch was twisted, creating a rough texture on the sleeves and back of the sweater. Even the ribbing had twisted stitches. The perfection melted in front of my eyes and I saw it for what it was, a flawed creation. As the woman laughed, I shrank inside, humiliated at the mistake, a mistake that echoed on half the sweater’s stitches.
A crack in everything.
My Grandmother Sonja took the sweater from me, declaring it beautiful, even more beautiful than if knitted conventionally. I could not see it. I left it with her, because it was now an embarrassment, not a masterpiece. And, yet her kindness has stayed with me. She redeemed my mistake.
That’s how the light gets in.
Now, many years later, I see the humor in my sweater knitting, and better than that, I see the amazing love and grace demonstrated by my grandmother. I left it behind deliberately, ashamed of it. These days, I’d show it for what it was, a learning experience and a means of grace and love. There is no perfect offering we can give to ourselves, to loved ones, or to God. Fortunately, perfection is not required. Forgive yourself for being human.
The light gets in.
“There is no perfect offering. There is a flaw in everything. That’s how the grace gets in.” (Sonja Dalglish)