Day 3. Be present...

by Christina

Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

And we continue…

I learned to knit when I was 9, one year after my mum taught me to sew. Making played a pivotal role during my childhood, as a foundation for my relationship with my mum and a creative outlet. I made a garter stitch rectangle from the brightest shade of yellow, a doll blanket. I’m not sure what happened to my “swatch” but learning to knit propelled me into a world of independence and comfort. I set the needles aside while in college and started again 10 years later, pregnant with our first child.

When I returned to knitting in my late 20’s, we had very little disposable income and with a baby on the way, spending money on knitting supplies wasn’t in our budget. I received a gift of $20 to purchase a skein of yarn and needles from a little yarn shop tucked away in the hills of southeast Ohio. In this remote shop, I found a skein of yarn called “Peace Fleece” and hand painted needles made by the same company. I read the story of the company and how the owner, Peter Hagerty had an idea in the mid-80’s during the height of the Cold War to blend fleece from his flock with sheep from Russia in the name of peace. His vision was to create a yarn that symbolized the collaboration of people from two opposing nations.

Samples of peace fleece needles

Samples of peace fleece needles

This meaningful purchase, this yarn with a story has been a motivating force in my life. So, when I had the opportunity this fall to meet and chat with Peter Hagerty from Peace Fleece I was over the moon excited and nervous. Finally, a chance to meet this man with a vision to create a yarn that captures peace in action. To talk with this man who contributed to sparking my love of knitting and perhaps even cultivated my interest in the relationship between knitting and peace.

And here’s what happened during my amazing conversation that is relevant to today’s peace “seed.” I explained Project Peace and my desires to spread peace around the world through knitting. He sat there with his hand under his jaw and listened intently. He said very little and as this silence grew, I began to get nervous… Was I boring him? Did he think this was silly? Ludicrous? The silence was beginning to feel extremely awkward. I paused.

He took a deep breath.

And then he spoke.

“I’m not sure what I have to offer you but I can tell you this…

be present.”

I sat there feeling a bit reactive… What? Present? Why is he telling me to be present? I’m here aren’t I? I’m paying attention… how does this “offering” relate to Project Peace and knitting?

And then I took a deep breath and let the words perfuse my being.

Be present.

And there it was… the need to be present.

Let go of the agenda, the busy-ness, the assumptions, the listening without comprehending, the squirreling about all day long.

Be present.

Just be…

Mr. Hagerty mentioned his use of horses to work the land on his farm. If he approached the horses with a forceful, authoritative, let’s get it done attitude and then allowed his mind to wander throughout the work, the horses knew. It never went as planned and the horses took over… But if he approached the horses with a collaborative spirit, was present and open to working with the horses; the work was productive, pleasant and rewarding.

We later moved our conversation outside and sat under the stars talking about cultivating peace. The Milky Way seemed just out of hands reach while we chatted with the soothing lull of the waves returning over and over as they embraced the rocky Maine shoreline. You’ve heard of love stories… well, this was a peace-story. And it was here that I knew that if I found nothing else to write about for 21 days, that the most important message was right here… in this moment… be present.

A memory that will last a lifetime. Thank you Mr. Hagerty for taking the time to be present.

Peace seed #3.

Be present.

Peace is presence.

We are busy, so very busy, rushing here and there just like a squirrel.

Today, take the time to be present. Whether it’s during a conversation with a friend, co-worker, family member or while you are taking a walk, studying, grading, listening to a pod-cast, working in a garden, cooking a meal, eating, or grocery shopping. Maybe while you are knitting or reading or even watching t.v.

Don’t tune out but rather tune in.

Our daily lives are filled with the opportunity to be present. And there in the midst of presence you may just hear the whispers of peace.