Practice Hope – By Paula Hutchinson. Member Blog, Day 13

God’s love shines light into my life. Even when I am caught up in the darkness of fear, sadness, or general unease that I can’t quite name, I’ve learned there are always glimmers of hope and goodness that are present if I’m awake and willing to look for them. The real trick for me is finding a way to let go of the darker feelings I’m attached to just long enough to let God’s grace enter in.

When I am agitated for any reason, my go-to practice is knitting. I pick up my needles and a project with some soft, beautiful yarn and plunk myself down in a comfortable chair. The ideal situation is for me to have a pattern that is complicated enough to require some occasional attention, but boring enough that I can let my mind be soothed by the repetitive nature of creating stitch after stitch. In that mix of gentle engagement and repetition, I often find answers rising up from deep within me in response to questions I didn’t know I was asking. My heartbeat slows. My breathing evens out. Tensed muscles begin to loosen. Minutes pass by unnoticed. No matter what awaits me when I set my work down, my knitting time itself feels sacred and infused with love that I carry with me when I’m called back to other responsibilities.

A recent practice that I’ve picked up is mixing prayer and collage work. I find this especially helpful when I am dealing with intense feelings like fear and anger. I also like this practice when I am confused about how to process events happening in the world around me. To start, I light a candle and turn on some quiet music. I pull out a 5 x 7 card and write out a prayer, or a list of worries, or a laundry list of grievances and hurts. It works with just about anything. I don’t worry about what words are on the paper or how long it takes to get them out. My process covers them up, so whatever is on the card is between me and God.

After I get my thoughts down on the card, I turn to a box of images that I’ve torn from magazines. I pull out anything that speaks to me and lay it out on my work surface. From there, I pull out my scissors and start to play around a bit. Cutting, arranging, rearranging. I don’t worry about doing anything right. This process is about trusting my intuition and having faith that there’s more wisdom to be found by entering the flow than by trying to create an artistic masterpiece. When the collage feels done, I sit back and spend time discerning what the image is trying to tell me.

As with my knitting, the collage work offers me the benefit of engaging my hands and just enough of the thinking part of my brain to help me settle into a calm, meditative state. Even if my collage is a giant mystery when it’s done, the practice of creating it brings me some quiet and a sense of peace. In times of darkness, that is a welcome gift.