November 17, 2019 Treasure: A Wonder-full Life, by Reverend David Tatgenhorst
Matthew 6: 19-24
“Don’t store up earthly treasures for yourselves, which moths and rust destroy and thieves can break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor rust can destroy them and thieves cannot break in and steal them. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be as well. “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light inside you is darkness, how great that darkness will be! “No one can serve two superiors. You will either hate one and love the other, or be attentive to one and despise the other. You cannot give yourself to God and Money.
We take a moment to reflect on the treasure of our lives, what we really value. and we give thanks.
Treasure: a Wonder-Full Life
You could tell the blanket was a treasure, just by looking at it. You could tell someone had put hours and hours of love into making it, and years of talent…
Last spring, my mother-in-law fell in her condo and broke a vertebra her neck. It was a scary time. Cathy took a leave of absence from her work, starting in April to go up and support her mother. She cooked and cleaned and helped Jini with everything she needed for four months while she found a senior care center to which she could move when she was ready.
While she was there, Cathy started to knit a baby blanket for the granddaughter of one her best friends, Ellen. The baby was due to be born this fall, so Cathy was thinking ahead and spending her time wisely. For months she poured herself into the project, knitting, then ripping out sections where she had made a mistake. (I heard about most every of those mistakes as they happened.) Then she would knit that part again, following a complicated pattern. She was near the end of the main section by August when I went up to help her get home.
Jini had just moved into a senior assisted living home when I got up there, and was making herself comfortable. The condo had just sold, so Cathy and I stayed in B&B’s in the area, doing some day trips to local sites, and checking back in with Jini in the evenings. When Jini was feeling settled, we took a few days of real vacation up in Maine before heading back to Philadelphia, loaded down with two carloads of Cathy’s stuff from a summer in Massachusetts, and Jini’s stuff that wouldn’t fit into her new place, a lifetime of treasures and mementos.
We had been home a day or two when Cathy came to me in distress. She said, “I can’t find it. The baby blanket isn’t here.” I tried to reassure her. “It will show up. Look at all this stuff. I’m sure it’s right in front of us in one of these boxes.” She shook her head, “I’ve looked everywhere. It’s not here.” I couldn’t quite believe it, but as she worried and looked for the blanket for days, I began to realize that she had lost months of work and effort. I could tell she was heartbroken. She had checked with her mother and everywhere we had stayed. Nobody could find it.
Weeks and months passed and she finally let it go. She had started another project and was again pouring her heart into her work. But as the baby’s birth neared, she decided to start over on the blanket. She went to a yarn shop, Loop, in Philadelphia.
Months earlier, that blanket had taken a journey from hand to hand. One person passing it on to another, wondering who it belonged to. It finally came to a woman named Nancy Pierce. Nancy Pierce could tell immediately just by looking at it, that this blanket was a treasure. As a knitter herself, she could tell someone had put hours and hours of love into this beautiful project, and years of talent. She was part of a group of knitters, the Gleason Public Library Knitting Club, of Carlisle, Massachusetts. She brought it to them and they determined to find the knitter.
They went on to a knitters website called Ravelry, they told their friends, they identified the pattern as Brooklyn Tweed’s Shale Baby Blanket. They contacted knitters from Austria to Minnesota. Nancy posted on the Brooklyn Tweed fan club site. Others posted pictures on three knitting groups on Facebook. When Cathy went back to trace the trail she could see it was shared 1,700 times, meaning about 340,000 people had seen it, through generations of viral reposting. The group heard from people from California to Estonia!
When Cathy went into the yarn shop, Loop, she told the shop assistant, Meredith, that she had lost her blanket and was ready to buy yarn to start over. Meredith paused a moment and said she had seen a posting about a found baby blanket just the night before on a “Brooklyn Tweed” website, which rotates posts in its ‘stories’ section. Brooklyn Tweed was the company where Cathy had purchased the original pattern for the blanket.
Meredith went to the shop computer and pulled up a photo of Cathy’s blanket and everything that had been with it in the bag she left in one of the B&B’s where we had stayed. Cathy danced around the store in amazement, relief and gratitude. Within an hour Cathy emailed the contact on the site, Nancy Pierce, who was almost as relieved and happy as Cathy and promised she would send the blanket the next day, which she did.
Cathy came home to tell me, and we danced and exulted some more that what was lost had been found. Baby Jack was born 2 weeks ago. It was not an easy pregnancy or delivery, and neither was the delivery of the blanket, but I tell you what, the whole saga made the treasures in this story all the more valuable – the treasure of a blanket, the treasure of a world wide community of knitters and artists, the treasure of a baby, the treasure of a mother and daughter, the treasure of love between friends.
Sometimes in the troubles of our lives, we lose things. We can also lose track of what the real treasures of our lives are. Things can be replaced, and we never lose what is really important if we stay in touch with what we treasure most. Our community is a treasure like that world wide community of knitters, like the love between friends. You can tell just by looking at it that people have spent hours and hours of love into making it and years of talent. I thank you for valuing this community, for committing yourself to growing in love for life and spreading the good news of that life-changing love in the world. As it says in our reading for this morning: “store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor rust can destroy them and thieves cannot break in and steal them. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be as well.”
there was one more surprise in the story. When the word went back out through the knitting community and online that the owner of the blanket had been found, a woman reached out to Cathy to tell she had been following the story of the blanket carefully. She said she had written a children’s book years earlier called “Lucy and Lainey” which had a very similar plot about a knitted project being lost and finding its way back to the owner through a series of happenstance. She said she wanted to send a first edition copy of the book to be included with the gift of the blanket. She signed it and dedicated to baby Jack. what a treasure!
This is God’s good news.
Responsive Song: 722 I Want to Be Ready