The Light Gets In

Seeing the World Through the Holes in Our Hearts

Seeing the World Through the Holes in Our Hearts

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)

About Sonja Roberts Dalglish

I love people, math, physics, and theology. I love mysteries which may explain the list above. I am a polio survivor, having had the disease in August 1954. The vaccine was declared safe in April 1955. I am very pro vaccines. They have increased the health and well being of the world. Presently, I am living just west of Corpus Christi, in Kingsville. For naturalists, this seems to be where the coastal plane and the Wild Horse Dessert meet. It is flat which gives us beautiful sunsets. One of our concerns is climate change. We are already hot and dry and getting hotter and dryer. The cattlemen and women are having to graze fewer livestock these days.
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6 Responses to The Light Gets In

  1. Katherine says:

    Actually, the woman who commented on your knitting all of those years ago was in error. You simply unvented an interesting texture stitch and, when repeated, it became a design element. Rule of thumb: always be suspicious of someone who tels you that your knitting is wrong. I unravel almost as much as I knit but know that you are right — all of those cracks let the light in. I have so many cracks, I have to squint at all of the light. Thanks for this.

  2. Mary Breden says:

    I loved this, Sonja! Such wisdom from your grandmother. My mother was a Real Knitter – she made sweaters and blouses and skirts and coats – all in beautiful colors and patterns, with taffeta linings and exotic buttons. I can make something that is roughly rectangular, in one or two simple stitches. But I was lucky enough to have a mother almost as wise as your grandmother, so I’ve always been able to enjoy the knitting I do for what it is, and not have to agonize (too much!) over what it isn’t. 🙂 Miss you at lectionary and how you’re doing well! Blessings, m.

  3. I just discovered this blog and now I’m so glad I did! This has such a beautiful message. I’m currently teaching a mother an daughter pair how to knit and they seem to get frustrated very easily. One of them just THOUGHT she was making mistakes and began ripping her work right away. I later watched her every stitch and saw no mistakes. Anyway, I’ve been trying to tell them that mistakes happen and it’s okay to move on and leave it. This is just practice. But you’ve put it so nicely, in such a great light. I hope I can bring that attitude to my next class with them and they will catch on. 🙂

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