Tuesday, September 22, 2020

i thank You God for most this amazing

Fall view of the Lost River Range as seen from the ranch


Hi, stitching friends!

Never before have I had a religious post, or a spiritual post, because I have always believed that religion and spirituality are a personal thing. If you want to stop reading now, by all means, do, and come back again later when it's just about cross stitch and life. I won't be offended in the least.

I'm not going to try to convince you to believe what I believe, but I wanted to share with you a neat "Aha!" moment I had the other night. I was reading Some Answered Questions when I came across a paragraph that just flipped a light switch on in my brain.

I'm going to link a poem to a cross-stitch pattern I charted nearly 30 years ago to a horse to miracles. (A horse? Yes, a horse.) Ready?

First, the poem. 

When I was in college studying English, I fell in love with the poetry of e e cummings. The poem "i thank You God for most this amazing" just spoke to me:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


Next, the cross stitch.



I liked the poem so much that I charted it for cross stitch when I was in college. I was a new stitcher then, still working on Aida, and I picked a pattern from an issue of Cross Stitch & Country Crafts magazine to use for the top and bottom borders and the scene at the bottom.

My brother framed it for me, cutting the mat himself. I think he mounted it on sticky board. Over the years it has started to wrinkle in the frame a little as you can see, but it has been hanging on a wall in my home for nearly 30 years.


I was so proud of myself for learning a couple of new stitches: the pavilion diamond stitch and the "braided" backstitch lines (I can't remember the name of the stitch).

And the horse.

Yes, there really is a horse in all of this.

My parents moved to central Idaho two months before I was born. Growing up in a small mining and ranching town, I never felt like I belonged. People can live there for decades and still be considered outsiders. I didn't fit in with my classmates, and I often felt like I was bullied. I couldn't wait to move away.

Driving through Round Valley, the Lost River Valley and across the desert to the nearest "big city" that had a mall and a movie theater was my first escape. My mom would take me school-clothes shopping, or would take my brother and me Christmas shopping, and sometimes we would go just to eat Chinese food, stay in a "fancy" hotel and see a movie. My brother and I would ride escalators and elevators for fun, since there were only a few buildings more than one story tall in our entire county.

The mountains were invisible to me. They were just something we had to drive past to get to the city.

The Lost River Range, as seen from the top of the Burma Road leading into Copper Basin.

When I was a senior, I was applying to Penn State, Carnegie Mellon and Oberlin. I wanted to get away.


And then I met Shawn.

Shawn and me, in 1993, at his
parents' house over Christmas break
during our junior year of college

How had I not met him before? He went to school in a neighboring town an hour away, and our basketball teams had played many times. He was a center on their team, and I was in our pep band. (How had I not seen him? Oh, wait, I know. The guy who played center for our team was my crush, so I was probably wasting time watching him instead.)

My friends and I joined Academic Team, a new activity for our central- and eastern-Idaho schools. All the teams met in the "big city" for a meet-and-greet orientation. My friends and I were sitting at a table when my friend Heidi jumped up and said, "Shawn!"

I looked up to see who she was yelling to. I know it didn't happen this way, but this is how I remember it: slow motion, the most beautiful blue eyes and gorgeous smile I had ever seen, tall, handsome, dreamy. His friends were there, too, but I didn't see them. I only saw him.


The entrance to Copper Basin, summer range for the cattle


Fast forward a few months. Blue eyes and I were dating ("going out" is what we called it in the 90s). Blue eyes grew up on a ranch, and I could hardly believe that I was dating a ranch kid. His family had a 1,000-acre ranch with about 500 mother cows, and they summer-pastured the cows in Copper Basin and along the "bar," a long stretch of sagebrush-covered ground running between the Lost River Mountain Range and the highway. I had driven past this area dozens of times and never paid attention.

One early summer, I was helping Shawn and his family gather up cows from the bar to move them to Copper Basin. I had very little experience riding a horse, so Shawn put me on Smoky, a gentle, older quarterhorse. We got to one point and Shawn said, "Ride along this ridge, around that way, and then meet me on the other side." We were gathering up strays.

"The Bar," spring to early-summer range for the cattle, where Smoky and I had our moment


As soon as Shawn and his horse, a tall, high-spirited thoroughbred with racehorse blood, were out of sight, Smoky stopped. No matter how much I kicked and yelled, that darn horse would not move. The more I yelled and fretted, the more he just sighed and shifted his weight from one side to the other.

He would not move.

I panicked. What if I got off and tried to lead him? Would he run away? Would he know he got the best of me? What would Shawn think when he got to our meeting point and I wasn't there?

Smoky and I sat in the same spot for nearly two hours.

With nothing else to do (bear in mind this was long before smartphones were invented), I opened my eyes. I looked around. And for the first time in my life, I saw the mountains.

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


And finally, the miracle.


When I read and stitched "i thank You God for most this amazing," I thought the last two lines were about my experience seeing the mountains and the beauty around me for the first time. I knew the poem was about God and the natural world, but I thought it was about opening my eyes and my ears to the beauty around me, really seeing it and hearing it, not just seeing and hearing it.

And then I read this passage in Some Answered Questions, and the poem, the cross-stitch that had been hanging on my wall for decades, had new meaning:

"Consider that Christ reckoned as dead those who were nonetheless outwardly and physically alive; for true life is life eternal and true existence is spiritual existence. Thus if the Sacred Scriptures speak of raising the dead, the meaning is that they attained everlasting life; if they say that one who was blind was made to see, the meaning of this seeing is true insight; if they say that one who was deaf was made to hear, the meaning is that he acquired an inner ear and attained spiritual hearing. This is established  by the very text of the Gospel where Christ says that they are like those of whom Isaiah once said, They have eyes and see not, they have ears and hear not; and I heal them*."

My understanding was not wrong before. But as time progressed and my capacity for understanding increased, I was able to see another, deeper meaning in those lines.

"(i who have died am alive again today," = "if the Sacred Scriptures speak of raising the dead, the meaning is that they attained everlasting life..."

"the ears of my ears awake" = "he acquired an inner ear and attained spiritual hearing."

"the eyes of my eyes are opened" = "he acquired true insight."

Sitting on that horse with nothing around me but sagebrush, mountains, sky and silence opened my eyes and my ears to the world around me then. Reading 'Abdu'l-Bahá's words awakened the ears of my ears and opened the eyes of my eyes.

Have a fantastic week, stitching friends. I'll be back soon with more "regular" posts about fall stitching and framing (I have lots to show you!). Until then, stay safe and happy fall, y'all!

*Cf. Matt. 13:14-15; John 12:39-40.

11 comments:

  1. Meg: As a believer in Our Lord Jesus Christ, I was touched by this beautiful post.
    I think that the horse was sending a message to you and it worked, enjoy life even with the ups and downs, there is always a silver lining.
    Thank-you for the link, I will read the full link later today.
    Gods Blessings to you

    Catherine

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  2. Meg I enjoyed this post thoroughly. The cross stitch is wonderful yes, but your spiritual words today have truly indeed "fed" me. Thank you my friend for sharing this. And that picture of you and Shawn is just priceless!

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  3. What a beautiful post you have shared, Meg! Thank you for sharing the photos, the poem, your stories, and your stitched piece. And I love that picture of you and Blue Eyes!

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  4. Meg, I love your sweet stitch. What a treasure! I am so glad you shared your story of how you and Blue Eyes met. He was right under you nose...The picture of y'all is just precious.

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  5. What a touching and beautiful post, Meg! I loved hearing about the history of your stitched poem and how you met your husband. I have always felt closest to God in the mountains and in nature so your photos are a real blessing today. Thank you for sharing this piece of your life and your soul with us ♥

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  6. Thank you dear Meg for such a lovely post. You two look so adorable, then and now, too. Your insight is so awesome. We are not mere flesh and bone, we are souls with spirits that are truly born again and see not with just eyes, but with our hearts and spirit. It is in the quiet, the silence of the moment that was can "hear" His voice speak to our souls...not an audible voice, but a voice that your spirit knows...you make me smile with your awesomeness Meg! I love your cross stitch work, you are so talented and gifted...and beautiful inside and out. God Bless You sweet friend. ((hugs)) -V

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  7. Great post. I will remember when and where I read this. And the photos take my breath away.

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  8. A wonderful post, Meg; a thought-provoking post. I enjoyed reading about how you met your husband. Take care.

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