My life there and afterwards

Reclaiming the Past

As I look back at what I have experienced, I am beginning to be able to pick out some threads of my life that I value and am proud of. In ICSA Today, Vol. 5, No. 2, Greg Jemsek says “These…stories are not false accounts of a person’s life; rather they are stories that have become invisible to the person…The purpose of discovering such invisible stories is to allow a more nuanced perspective of what has happened to him – before, after, and during his involvement in a cult – to be discovered.”

I think about my handwork and how that was a constant thread throughout my life there. That was a hidden story thread that they didn’t care about. It went unnoticed for a long time. I knit baby blankets and sweater/bootie sets, and then graduated to sweaters for all three of my children as they grew. Aran, Irish, color-ways, fancy stitches, I did them all. I loved it and I made many beautiful things. It was a place of creativity for me, as well as solace. It was one place where I was ME, alone and away from the constant corrections about my sin.

I knitted and I crocheted. I did cross-stitched pictures and needlepointed pillows. Nowhere was I recognized for my talent and eye for color, and at the time I felt – well, I didn’t allow myself to feel. It would have been terribly self-centered of me to want any praise. Ego was to be denied and put down in every area. But I did feel sad and invisible. What meant a lot to me and brought me joy was literally nothing to anyone else. Occasional dreams would pop up of selling or displaying my art, but I quickly dashed them to the outer darkness as self-seeking and not God’s will.

In later years, after my children were no longer the recipients of my creations, I made shawls and blankets, and gave them away.

Once I joined the sisterhood my talent was finally noticed and directed into the service of the group. I made quilted wall hangings and quilted bedroom sets. I helped to embroider exquisite liturgical vestments for the leaders and clergy to wear at the Dedication of the new church.

At my insistence, I and another sister were allowed to learn weaving. I’ll have to tell the details of how that came about in another blog. For a while I was very excited with this new avenue of creativity, but even this was soon controlled and restricted. We had to weave what we were told to weave, and we had to beg for any and all thread to weave with. We were given no money to spend on this. So the weaving, as well as my involvement in the music, was a mixed bag. In these two areas my personal talent and love of the art was a hidden thread, but that thread all too often was hauled up to inspection and mauled over by those who wished to tear it apart.

To reclaim it – I am knitting again. I dream of finding a small loom cheap and doing some weaving. I have a violin that I worked very hard to afford, but have not been able to play it yet. Too much sadness cloaks that instrument still. But the handwork is becoming reclaimed and it brings me much joy.

A work in progress – thank God for freedom!


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