Notes from Jan

Comforting Afghans

September 1, 2021

Most folks my age have an afghan, probably knit or crocheted by someone in the family long gone. I have two, both made by my Norwegian grandmother. One’s beautiful. The other’s nothing to put on display but it’s my favorite, the last she crocheted. Grandma wasted nothing, especially time. Long before Frederick Buechner wrote about the gift of each day, my grandmother lived like each day held both immediate and eternal responsibility and reward.

In today’s entry from Buechner’s, Listening to Your Life, he writes: “If you were aware of how precious it is, you could hardly live through it… ‘This is the day which the Lord has made,’ says the 118th Psalm,’ Let us rejoice and be glad in it.’ Or weep and be sad in it for that matter… If you waste it, it is your life that you’re wasting.”

One day, after watching images of desperate Afghan people, airport chaos, casualties from a suicide bomber, fires, floods, hurricanes, pandemics and polarized politics, I hit pause. Unable to handle one more statistic or image, I needed a nap and my afghan? Which left me wondering about the origin of the name of a thing that sounded like a people. Turns out it came from the Afghan people.They were known for their intricate patterns, colorful textiles and carpets. So in the 1800s in our country, we began calling homemade blankets afghans.

So back to my favorite afghan. The hodgepodge of colors disturbs my aesthetic sense but the story behind settles and instructs. You see, like her days, Grandma wasted nothing. Which explains the varied colors of my afghan, woven of small strands of yarn left over from other projects. Like the widow in Mark 12: 23,”she gave everything she had to give.” It’s a visual aide to curb my wasteful tendencies and a comfort when life needs softening.

Which brings me to the Afghan people, who need more than a blanket. It’s hard to know what to say, so I pray for those left behind and those who left everything behind to come here. It’s our turn to be afghans for them and other refugees who arrive with only hope. And consider the folks who lost everything here and other parts of the world from floods, fires and hurricanes. The needs overwhelm. How to help?

We’ve all got our “baskets of yarn.” Scraps of our lives, untapped resources. We’ve received much compared to so many in this world. Instead of caving into fear and despair, or them versus us, lets ask God to help us comfort as we’ve been comforted .(II Corinthians 1:4)

Hard times bring out the best in folks. They nudge us to put to good use what’s left in our baskets.

Afghans for Afghans and all who need some blanket coverage to soften life’s hard edges.

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  • Reply Shirley Westrate September 1, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    Oh, Jan. I now have Grandma Winsor’s own afghan, the one from her living room sofa, the one under which I snuggled when I spent my summers in Beverly Farms more than 60 years ago. It too is a mismatched rainbow of colors that goes with nothing in my home, but oh how I love it.
    And of course, yes, may we all commit to bringing some comfort, some “Afghans for Afghans and all who need some blanket coverage…”

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 1, 2021 at 9:12 pm

      Yes, dear Shirley, those afghans wrap us in more than warmth. Looking forward to lunch with you and Jeanette next month.

  • Reply Mark Taylor September 1, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks, Jan. We can all look for ways to help the Afghan refugees who will be coming to nearly state of our union. If nothing else, we can help provide financial support to organizations like World Relief, who will bring both afghans and the comfort of Jesus to our new guests.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 1, 2021 at 9:19 pm

      Always good to hear from you, Mark. Organizations like World Relief, World Vision, the Salvation Army give us ways to “share our yarn” so nothing’s wasted. And God only knows what can happen when Jesus shows up through a cup of water, mug of coffee, warm blanket, shoes that fit or a song that reaches soul-deep.

  • Reply Wendy September 1, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    So good dear Jan – we have so much we can share that the Lord has blessed us with. And as Mark said we can help financially as there are so many wonderful organizations that can help them. And let us not become weary in praying – faithfully and fervently – Lord have mercy.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 1, 2021 at 9:28 pm

      Yes, dear Wendy. We will be called on to help in many ways, as well as to keep praying. Perhaps such overwhelming need in our world and country can help us come together to “faith” other issues.

  • Reply Randy Mathews September 1, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    Dear, dear Jan:

    You have done it again; hitting another home run into the bleachers in left field!! Your reminder to us who have so much to reach out to those who have so little is very timely. May the incredible photos coming out of California, Louisiana and Afghanistan encourage us to open wide our hearts and pocketbooks.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 1, 2021 at 9:42 pm

      As a baseball fan, I love your analogy! Thanks, dear Randy, for reading and responding. You and Alice know much about the needs of this world and I’m grateful for your example. We still miss you!

  • Reply Anne Kirby September 1, 2021 at 8:55 pm

    Your words always cause me to ponder and assess. Thank you

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 1, 2021 at 9:49 pm

      Me, too, Anne. Whenever I see the word ponder I think of lines from an old hymn: “Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy way and defend thee, Surely his goodness and mercy shall ever attend thee. PONDER anew what the Almighty can do, Who with His love doth befriend thee.”

  • Reply dale September 2, 2021 at 7:35 am

    Thanks Jan, It is easier to desire comfort than to give it. Are you looking at me Lord? Blessed to be a blessing is a convicting concept.

    Blessings dear friend, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 2, 2021 at 10:14 am

      Thanks my dear brother-friend. You and Marty are examples of generous living to bless others. Jud and I
      know from personal experience. May you be blessed as you’ve done so for so many, in the name of Jesus, Not all sermons need words.

  • Reply Toni Lovingood September 3, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    Love your post and the rich comments. We are to forgive as we have been forgiven, comfort as we have received comfort and bless others as we have been blessed. A convicting concept indeed. Thanks Jan. We all know how good a blanket feels, like a hug from a loved one. Toni

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 3, 2021 at 9:54 pm

      Yes, Toni, the comments from readers add to the blog. I’m so grateful to all of you for participating. Often the comments come as a blanket of encouragement and love to me, as it does to other readers.

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold September 18, 2021 at 12:15 pm

    Jan, I enjoyed the history behind the Afghan – thank you for tying this into the current climate.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg September 18, 2021 at 2:34 pm

      You are welcome, dear Alyssa. It was because of the current situation that I began to wonder if there was a tie between an obvious word and a people in the daily news. We have much to learn from people who live far away from us. As I’m sure you’ve been learning a great deal about living in Utah, so very different from New England. Each region has its beauty and charms. Live and learn.

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