She Taught Me to Knit
Sister Michelle Dosch, my postulant and novice director, died this past December. I was blessed to spend my first and formative years as a Benedictine Sister with her and graced to be with her in the days before she died.
In a bit of bittersweet and providential irony, I was not able to attend her funeral. Because I am away at school preparing to become a formation director, I was not able to say a formal, final good-bye to my dear formation director. Thankfully, my friends and classmates here at Catholic Theological Union in the Institute of Religious Formation have been supportive as I grieve Sister Michelle. They listen to my stories and memories of her. Many of them have asked what I most learned from Sister Michelle and with a smile I say, “She taught me to knit.”
Be assured Sister Michelle taught me all the things one needs in initial formation as a Benedictine Sister. She taught me and modeled for me a great deal about Monastic life. And, it turns out many of those lessons are found in knitting.
When she taught me to knit, she took me out of my comfort zone. As a self-proclaimed jock, knitting, or any of the handicrafts, were never in my wheelhouse. By teaching me to knit, Sister Michelle was expanding my horizons and challenging me to do something new. A great lesson to learn early on in Monastic life.
When she taught me to knit, she was teaching me to slow down. Sister Michelle was forever calling me to just be. I never really knew what that meant and it always seemed quite odd to me. I was all about doing things and being active. An evening spent knitting seemed dull and boring but it was in those evenings that we had some of our best conversations. By teaching me to knit, Sister Michelle was teaching me patience and showing me that there was value in slowing down and being still. A great lesson to learn early on in Monastic Life.
When she taught me to knit, Sister Michelle was teaching me that not everything needed to be perfect. One of the most frustrating things about knitting was that I was not good at it. I was never able to knit the perfect scarf. Just ask my Mom. She was the beneficiary of many of my hand-knitted scarves. I am sure none of them adorn her at Mass on a cold winter’s day. In fact, at one-point Mom told me that she had more than enough scarves to wear while shoveling snow. By teaching me to knit, Sister Michelle was helping me to grow in self-understanding and humility. A great lesson to learn early on in Monastic Life.
I pray the lessons Sister Michelle taught me continue to grow and deepen in me. I will be forever grateful for Sister Michelle and how she accompanied me in my early years at St. Scholastica Monastery. I am glad she taught me to knit.