Week 22: No Pretense but a lot of wool

This year, I set myself 22 little goals to pursue throughout the year. I call them the 22 in 22. They may all seem a bit random, but they were important to me at the time I made my New Year’s Resolution. Each Saturday, I take a few minutes to check my progress on a few of my goals.

Except that this week I made very little progress at all (which is sounding more and more like a refrain around here.) So I am going to drop the pretense that I even tried to make progress this week.

I had thoughts, but thoughts are not progress. Thoughts like, “Oof. I should really be standing straighter.” (#16 is about improving my posture) or “If you would just drink more water you wouldn’t be feeling so creaky and unwell.” (#17 is about tracking things like hydration.)

That said, I just forced myself to look over the 22 in 22 one last time before I gave up, and well, maybe I did have a few thoughts (thoughts but not progress, mind you!) that were worth exploring this week.

#12 Set aside “unplugged” hours of the day

The fifty kilos of wool on my balcony aren’t going to wash themselves. In an effort to just get it done, I have been haphazardly, whenever I have a moment, grabbing a piece of raw fleece and drowning it in a bin of water.

Now, I am absolutely enamored with this process. I love, in particular, the first rinse, because the water is so disgustingly gross as the dust and dirt and sand leaves the fleece. I love this.

What this has to do with unplugged moments, at least this week, is that I have been doing this without any methodology, and I regret it. I wish that I had been methodical about each full fleece as I took it out of the bag. I wish that I had skirted each one individually (skirting is the polite, technical term for removing the locks that were around the back legs of a sheep and are usually covered in organic material), instead of just grabbing handfuls of fleece to wash.

When last night I finally got around to pulling out a full fleece and skirting it properly, I found the process so relaxing. Taking the time to study the fleece: determining which parts would make lofty goodness nearly immediately, which locks I would want to keep intact (much of this wool is so gorgeous that I am looking for crafts that would allow me to use these full, long locks just as they are!) and which parts were just too matted to wash or to even bother with–this process felt so…this is going to sound really weird. But it felt holy.

I said I had thoughts.

So, randomly, a friend I had been sharing my wooly adventures with sent me text message with this tiny little piece of a verse from Proverbs: “She selects wool and flax…” (Proverbs 31;13) with the added comment, “Who would have guessed that you were a wife of noble character?” (It was a gentle joke. I was not offended.)

In the end, I was able to connect this feeling of doing something holy while being methodical about something I am passionate about, which also happens to be ancient and, honestly, random in our day and age, notably, sorting wool on my balcony, with one of those verses that puts a yoke around a young wife’s neck because it likewise seems random and always seems unattainable.

Maybe…just maybe…there is something noble about sorting through poopy wool, pulling out the burrs and the insects that got stuck in there. Maybe it is noble to not get grossed out by the organic material and the smell and the absolute filth. Maybe the faith that this gross, stinky filthy fleece can become something other than what it currently is, well, maybe this is holy.

Because maybe when God looks at me, he sees a stinky, filthy messy fleece, too. But he believes in what I can be. My friend’s joke, which, may I remind you, I was not offended by, is not just a joke. It is true. I know that my character and my thought life is not noble. But for a few seconds, I was able to see myself as God sees me. And that, my friends, feels pretty holy.

While I was separating the fleece last night on my balcony, I did so with the image of a winter sweater that I would be knitting from it in my mind. I did so imagining the details of the sleeve cap and the cuff. I thought through the closure and the placement of the increases and decreases in the back. I also imagined myself picking my boys up from school in this sweater. I imagined the walk I would take with my husband while wearing this sweater. I imagined the rehearsals I would attend wearing this sweater. I imagined being warm and cozy.

I experienced a moment that God must experience with us: even while we are wallowing in the muck and mire, he sees what’s ahead. And for the promise of the future, he sticks through the process with us, patiently removing the gross stuff and the unusable stuff. Taking a moment to marvel at the raw beauty and potential. Enjoying the process and the promise.

So. Did I make progress? Not on my 22 in 22. But I did enjoy my unplugged moments.

Episode 63: Foresight Sing With Your Feet

This week, we look at how we can love ourselves better by planning ahead.
  1. Episode 63: Foresight
  2. Episode 62: Memory
  3. Episode 61: Novelty
  4. Episode 60: How to Have Great Sex
  5. Episode 59: I Have A Theory

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

One thought on “Week 22: No Pretense but a lot of wool

  1. Did the boys help with the process? I imagine them engrossed in this “cleaning of the fleece” time.


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