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Afghan with a Story
Photo: Hemera
A few weeks ago I was trying to “take good care of myself” and truly rest on the Sabbath. When I decided to lie on the sofa to read and rest in the living room, I first went into our bedroom, reached up into the wardrobe, and pulled down the afghan. This is an afghan with a story. It symbolizes two women who understood each other. It symbolizes one woman’s understanding of another’s pain. It remains an emotional connection between my husband’s Aunt Esther and me. Aunt Esther passed away at the age of 96 in 2004.

I draw strength, courage, and most of all comfort from this afghan. White with almost fluorescent pink, purple, and lavender zig-zags, it would not be what I would have picked out for myself. But it’s precious to me. It also signifies a very sad day in my life when my dear father-in-law, in his distress and grief at leaving his home and many of his belongings, shouted at me with some very hurtful words.

When we feel threatened, humans are known to flee or fight. I’m one who flees. I fled back down the street to Aunt Esther’s house where my husband Don and I were sleeping at night. I quietly went downstairs, but she had noticed me come in. As I cried on the bed, Aunt Esther came in and asked what had happened. She said she understood and that Beth (my mother-in-law) had also come at times in her marriage to be comforted because of “Joe’s harsh words.”

Aunt Esther's Care for Me

Aunt Esther left the room and shortly returned with a hand-crocheted, new afghan, and said she wanted me to have it. This is still a first generation afghan, but it already has a story. I like to think of its comforting warmth and of Aunt Esther’s care for me that day.

I’m reminded of a beautiful book for children by Patricia Polacco, The Keeping Quilt. This is Patricia’s story. It is a story about a quilt that was kept with her family through six generations. It became a touchable, huggable diary that quietly told the story of this Jewish-Russian family who came to America.

We all need something in our life that is constant. Children thrive when there are some things they can count on. Science tells us that the nurturing and stable relationships with caring adults are essential to healthy human development from birth.

We live in a throw-away society that teaches, “Throw-away. Buy new.” The Keeping Quilt recognizes the importance of treasuring stuff that will last for many lifetimes. Perhaps my afghan with a story will be treasured for lifetimes to come in our family.

While certainly not as important as the Holy Scriptures and God’s promises, when we can connect with those who have gone before us, our faith is strengthened, and our children can better understand a God whose traditions are relevant today.

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By Susan E. Murray. Reprinted with permission from the Lake Union Herald, January 2007. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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