Pain can easily tear a community apart–especially when some feel that pain more deeply than others. On the other hand, pain can bring a community closer together than ever before. What makes the difference?
Yes, I believe that knitting makes all the difference between a community on the verge of self-destruction and a community that couldn’t be stronger.
Hear me out on this.
For community members who are not hurting, it can be easy to misunderstand—or even dismiss—the pain that others are feeling. When enough people have this attitude, the fabric of society begins to rip and, if left untreated, the rip will widen until society tears itself apart.
Latter-day Saint tradition offers a solution to this sort of separation—between those who have been deeply hurt and those who haven’t. The Book of Mormon teaches that each of us must be “willing to…mourn with those that mourn…and comfort those that stand in need of comfort…at all times and in all things, and in all places…even until death” (Mosiah 18:8-9).
This sort of mourning may require asking questions to understand exactly where the pain is coming from, and we must listen to these truths—no matter how uncomfortable they make us. Mourning could also mean sitting beside someone who is hurting, listening to their cries of pain, and giving them a shoulder to cry on. Or it may require something else entirely.
It all depends upon a willingness to listen, to learn, and to do whatever it takes to comfort others.
Once we recognize the pain in our community—in all its forms—and commit ourselves to mourning and comforting, something remarkable happens: our “hearts [become] knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21).
I really like the word “knit.” When I hear it, I imagine yarn of different colors, textures, and thicknesses. Separately, the yarn is beautiful. But when someone takes a pair of long, scary-looking needles and knits with this yarn, these diverse strands come together and wind under, around, between, behind, and through each other. Over and over and over again—needles flash and single pieces of yarn grow to become something bigger and far more beautiful.
Knitting is the exact opposite of tearing something apart. When we are willing to understand the pain that lives in the hearts of our community members, our own hearts become soft enough to intertwine with theirs. This shared pain becomes a pair of needles, and as individuals of different colors, textures, and thicknesses walk side by side, we grow closer, tighter, and stronger in the process.
May we choose to recognize the pain in our community. But more than this, may we mourn with the mourners, comfort the comfortless, and allow this pain to knit our hearts together in unity and in love.