Making dreams real

February 1, 2012 | Viewpoints | Number 3
Melissa Miller |

I am crocheting a baby afghan. The soft, multi-coloured yarn slides through my fingers. I catch it on the end a hook, spin and loop it into the expanding blanket. My cat lies beside me, sometimes taking a swipe at the tantalizing string, but mostly curled up sleeping.

The afghan is a gift for Kenneth, the firstborn child of my nephew Matthew and his wife Emily. Kenneth would have been my mother-in-law’s third great-grandchild. She eagerly anticipated his arrival and looked forward to holding him in her arms. At 91 years old, however, she was slowed down by congestive heart failure and knew she might not ever see the baby.

Still, she dreamed. She imagined making an afghan for the baby, a version of her ripple afghans that adorn the couches of her family members. She arranged for the yarn to be purchased and brought to her, intending to make the baby a gift herself. Before she could begin to crochet, her health failed and she died. The following month, Kenneth was born, a happy event for all of us still grieving the loss of Mother. A baby has a way of pulling us from sadness to joy, from death to life.

After Mother’s death, we sorted through her few possessions, distributing them to new owners. The skeins of yarn lay unclaimed. Looking at them, I wished I had asked Mother to teach me the pattern. That thought lasted a few seconds, as it bumped up against memories of Mother’s curt and exacting instructions that scraped on my sensitivities, like sharp stones on the bottom of a canoe. No, that would not have been a happy learning experience.

Still, it didn’t seem right to let her dream die with her. It would mean a great deal to a number of family members if the yarn could be worked into an afghan for the new baby, just as Mother imagined. I already knew a bit about crocheting. When I realized how easily I could find a pattern and instructions on the Internet, I volunteered to take on the task.

Soon it will be finished and sent off to Kenneth, a direct link between him and the great-grandmother he never knew. Some dreams are realized not by the dreamer, but by someone else who catches the vision and carries the dream forward. Mother’s gift, an expression of love for her unborn great-grandson, was a gift to me, too. Like a relay runner, I was given a torch to carry for a section of the race. It’s been a privilege and a joyful honour to bring Mother’s dream to life.

This winter, I am reading Revelation with others who are studying Mennonite Church Canada’s Season of Prayer guide. Revelation ends with a rich tapestry of a dream: a community of saints enjoying intimate, unmediated relationship with God in a city of indescribable beauty—radiant as crystal, with gates of pearl and streets of gold. No tears or mourning or pain or death.

We’re not there yet; the dream has not been realized. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we are asking for that dream to be made real. We are asking that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Dreamers, prayers, crocheters: all are needed to give body and shape to God’s dream.

Melissa Miller ( lives in Winnipeg, where she works as a pastor and counsellor. Her family ties include that of daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend.

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