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Along the Journey  |  

Knotted Together

My grandmother was a tatter—a maker of lace. She taught herself the art because my grandfather told her she wouldn’t be able to learn how to do it; he said she wasn’t smart enough. My grandpa didn’t realize that you never tell a woman in my family that we can’t do something; we’ll do it to prove you wrong.

As a child, I spent much time with my grandmother, sitting by her and watching her weave the tatting shuttle in and out of her fingers. She created tiny knots that would come together to become beautiful dollies, snowflakes, and lace for handkerchiefs and dresses. The movement of the shuttle in and out of the thread was mesmerizing and the lace creation was pure magic. She told others the art of tatting was all about making tiny knots and connecting those knots to create something new and more beautiful. My grandmother died in January 1998 at the age of 70.

She left me a lot of her tatting, including a large doily hanging in my hallway. Every time I pass it, I remember her and the weaving of the shuttle and the miracle of the lace. I ponder how that large doily started with just one knot. Still, in its present form, none of the knots are individually visible. They are joined in design and shape to create concentric circles that move out to scalloped edges. If one of those knots were missing, if one of those knots were put in a different place, the whole shape of the doily would be different because in tatting, as in the church, each knot matters to the life and design of the greater picture.

All people in the church matter. Each person has a role to play and a mission to fulfill. God calls each person to bring glory to God’s name in all they do. We are all knots tatted together into this incredible, beautiful doily made by God to make this world a little better and more beautiful.

So often, I have heard my older adult congregants tell me that they don’t feel they have a purpose or a mission in their stage of life. The culture emphasizes youth, independence, and “works righteousness,.” Older adults who are not as independent or physically able “to do” feel that the church and God do not need them. But the truth is that God is never done with us. The spiritual journey takes a lifetime—from birth to death. In our living, we testify to God’s goodness through our actions and words. In our sickness, we testify to God’s goodness in being cared for; and in our dying, we testify to God’s goodness in the promise of resurrection and joy.

Each person in our congregation is important. Each person has a call, a mission, and a purpose in the body of Christ.
Each of us is a knot, knotted with the Great Tatter’s shuttle, to create this beautiful and messy thing known as the Church. Each of us, from the nursery to the nursing home, has a part to play. Each of us is needed. We are not independent creatures; we’re interdependent. The loss of one of us is a blow to all of us.

I never learned how to tat; I didn’t have the patience. But I can admire the knots that come together to create art and beauty. When I look out at my congregation—the young, old, and everything in between—I see the beauty of God’s lacemaking that brings us all together, united in purpose, calling, and love.

Rev. Burnetta Armour is a native of Asheboro, NC. She attended Western Carolina University and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She has completed her OAM Level One certification and hopes to start her OAM Level Two certification this year. She lives in Cleveland, GA with her husband, son, and cat.

Along the Journey