Untying Knots

I bought a pair of capris the other day, with ribbons on the bottoms that are supposed to be tied in little bows.  These were not in bows, however, but in knots.  Late for synagogue on Shabbat morning, I left them as they were, but as I started driving, I thought it would be a good idea to untie the knots as I drove, so that I could tie the ribbons in bows when I got to the parking lot.  I figured I would have plenty of time in an hour’s drive to accomplish that task, even while driving.

I know that the thought of me driving with one hand and untying a knot with the other may make some people, especially my children and husband, nervous.  But I was very careful to only work on the knots when there was nothing else going on on the road, and I always had at least one hand on the wheel. Explaining this makes me feel a little like Lucy from I Love Lucy, when she tried to account for some outrageous maneuver she’d tried, but, seriously, it was not that bad.

I discovered how hard it is to untie a knot with one hand.  This may be something everyone else in the world already knows, but, at 68, I don’t recall ever having tried the one-handed knot-untie trick before.  I started with my left side and got that one done in about 15 minutes.  Surprisingly, the right side took longer, perhaps because the knot was tighter.  Eventually, I got that one done, got to synagogue, tied my bows, and was good to go.

So what? may be the response of just about everybody.  Who cares about untying knots with one hand, unless you are driving on the road at the same time as some nut like me is attempting this maneuver and want to know what to avoid?  Well, the deal is, there is an object lesson here.

Now this is where my children might sigh.  Being together so much due to homeschooling, they learned, besides how to read and write and other academic stuff, that Mom can find a song for almost everything and an object lesson for many things.  After all, what is an object lesson but a teachable moment?  It’s when you can link a concept, a principle, a moral to something tangibly occurring in real life at that moment.  The songs were not that; I mean, they were just things that popped in my head and came out of my mouth, very often to my children’s embarrassment and chagrin, like when I sang “I’m Telling You Now” by Freddie and the Dreamers, with arm and leg movements, in a parking lot.  At least they didn’t have a boring mother.  But back to the object lessons; I believe they are gifts from God, even when they are not especially deep or spiritual.

When I started thinking, as I was driving, about how hard it was to untie those knots one-handed, it gave me a picture of relationships.  I’m sure most of you have heard the analogy about our lives being like a tapestry; we see the bottom with the knots and mistakes, but God sees the whole beautiful picture being made at the top.  Knots in the right places are very useful, but knots can also tangle things up and keep things from moving smoothly. If knots develop in a relationship, it is so much easier to work together to untangle them.  If they have become complicated and tightly knotted, it takes a lot more time and patience, but it can be done eventually with two hands, two people.  Difficulties in a relationship, any relationship, are like knots that are most effectively undone as a partnership, working  together.

However, one person can untie a knot.  If you have enough patience and enough determination to do it, you can succeed at unraveling that which has become complicated and constricted.  It just takes a lot longer and requires a lot more faith.  If two people are committed to untying the knots in their relationship, it can be done.  If neither cares to work at it, the knots will remain and the relationship will be in a hopeless tangle.  But if one person determines to be the knot-untier, despite the difficulty of the task and the endurance needed to complete it, that relationship has a chance to run smoothly again.

Disclaimer: This object lesson does not apply to the following knot situations:  stomach knots, tree knots, nautical knots, muscle knots, protuberant knots, or macrame knots. I can only stretch an object lesson so far….




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