Last Sunday, the service at our church was about the current economic climate and what we as Unitarian Universalists can do about it. One of the members of the church worked for many years as an economist in Washington, DC, and she offered a sermon full of both eye-opening statistics about salary and wealth distribution in the US (and how the government generates these statistics) and thought-provoking questions about what those statistics mean on a human, emotional level.
After the sermon, we had a short discussion. Several people got up to speak and expressed opinions about the current economic situation. The woman who gave the sermon then asked, “But what are some things that we as individuals can do to help the situation?”
Crickets. (Figurative crickets. It was still January in New England.)
As we sang our last hymn, I thought of someone right here in our state who is working to make a difference on an individual level.
A few months ago, my friend Melanie launched Monkeys on a Mission. Each month, she chooses a group in need that she’d like to help and invites others to assist her. For her first mission, she made sock monkeys to send to children who were displaced by the wildfires in Texas. For her second, she collected books (and donations to buy books) for Youth and Family Services in Worcester, Massachusetts. This month, she’s making and collecting handmade caps for homeless veterans.
I’ve been watching the action on her blog and her Facebook Page with interest. Detached interest, accompanied by only a passing, “Maybe one month, if something really speaks to me, I’ll help out.”
But after this Sunday’s service I knew I wanted to do a little something, too.
This week, I dipped into my ample yarn stash (I find that I can either complete yarn-related projects or buy yarn for them, but rarely can I accomplish both) and crocheted two hats!
I am, frankly, amazed. During my crafting of these caps, I was hampered not just by my children (who kept attempting to try on the hats at the completion of each new row, singing the pinball song from Sesame Street while I tried to count stitches, and running off with my ball of yarn at every opportunity, weaving around chairs, tables, and cats as they went), but by my critical mind.
“This hat isn’t going to be warm enough. This is New England. You should really line it with fleece or make a second hat and sew it inside this one. But if you stop to do that, you’re never going to finish the hat. This hat is ugly anyway. No one’s going to want to wear it, but they will because they don’t have anything else. Why should they have to wear an ugly hat just because they’re homeless? It’s just a drop in the bucket anyway. Why bother?”
All of my recent meditation practice must have kicked in, though. I fought the urge to argue with the voice and just let her yammer on. I tuned her out and just kept crocheting.
But her goading does lead me to wonder: Why should the fear of not doing “enough” be a reason for doing nothing?
Theoretically, if each of us did a small kindness, these things would add up.
“That’s how the miracle of the loaves and fishes happened,” our minister suggested a couple of weeks ago. “People had brought food for themselves for the day, and when they shared what they had, they found there was enough for everyone.”
So, ugly or not (I actually don’t think they’re ugly), warm or not (I’m not sure about this one), I’ve made these hats. At best, maybe two people who’ve fought for our country will feel a little more cozy for the rest of the winter. At worst, well, maybe making the hats and giving them away has helped to open my heart a little bit and help me see the possibility in doing little things.
But as insurance, I’m blogging about Melanie and her project so I can, perhaps, recruit others to do a small part, too, so I can feel like my contribution is part of a bigger collective contribution.
I’m also blogging about this because I just want to say that Melanie and her Monkey Missions totally rock.
If you’d like to make a hat or two, she’s still collecting them until February 6th. You can find her e-mail on her blog. If you don’t crochet or knit, she can e-mail you a pattern for an easy fleece hat. And if you can’t help with this Monkey Mission, there’s always next month.
UPDATE: If you want to contribute but making a hat isn’t your thing, you can buy some of Melanie’s monkeys at her etsy store and contribute to funding for future monkey missions!
Oh, and a minor miracle: I began the second hat with a partial skein of green yarn. When I finished the last stitch, this is what was left:
I definitely have to get this miracle hat to a veteran. Or at least to Melanie and let her get it to a veteran.