Transposing Grief :: A Call to Hands

The evidence that this is not our home, is before us every day. As pilgrims and sojourners in a foreign land, we daily experience the difficulty of living in the in-between. While our gaze is forward to a land where there will be no more tears, we are presently called to walk this earthly path with the Light of Christ which has been shed abroad in our hearts.

So much in our world threatens to choke that Light. Griefs, small and large, are at every turn. From dealing with traffic to lack of provision. From refrigerator breakdowns to relational ones. Sickness, worry, fear, anxiety, riots, floods, and death. Though we typically think of grief as something experienced when a loved one dies, grief of all kinds is with us daily. A tune in a sad, minor key plays however softly or loudly in our daily lives.

I am continuing to realize that our work as pilgrims of Christ is to transpose this grief. We who have been rescued by grace, forgiven in mercy, and loved with an everlasting love hear a different music. It is a song in major chords of triumph, of joy, of peace unending. Sometimes we hear it loud and clear. Sometimes it is faint and the minor song of our daily griefs threatens to drown out the music of the Ancient of Days.

We cannot ignore our grief. Attempts to ignore, stuff, push away, or wear rose-colored glasses never ends well. We must face our grief, the small and the large, and transpose it, joining the Master Musician in changing the key, translating our sorrow into a joy that has no basis in our circumstances, nor wears a plastic smile. It is a joy that exists in every tree and blade of grass – the unending creative energy of God our Maker.

Every time you and I sit to sketch or paint what is around us, transposing is happening. Every stitch, whether in needle, hook or machine shifts that grief into a more joyful key. Every mosaic, work in clay, song, monologue, poem, short story or woodwork, tunes our hearts to His song.

I know this to be true. I have known it for many years. Yet I still go through periods where I question it. Why am I doing this? Why do I have this need to put pen to paper, paint to sketchbook? Why do I stitch my world? Could each stitch be a note on a staff, creating beautiful music? Isn’t this a bit silly… to spend one’s life making little pictures in a sketchbook? Isn’t it selfish or self-absorbed to keep knitting shawl after scarf, sweater after sock?

No. 110% no!

With every swipe of paint, every line drawn, every knit and purl, and any other ways my hands find to create, I am transposing a moment of grief and sadness, however big or small, into one of hope and joy. I am participating in a chorus of creative people in our country and around the world who refuse to let the song of this world, of hatred and fear, be the dominant tune. I am adding the notes of my instrument to the symphony of God’s people who are transposing daily, doing the work of “singing a new song” for all around us to hear.

Do you knit? Then do so boldly, mistakes and all! Knit and crochet for your own sake and for the sake of others so that we might hear more clearly the song of Life.

Do you paint? Then do so freely, making it a priority to draw and paint the world as it should be.

Do you write? Do you sculpt? Do you act, play an instrument, or sing? Whatever it is, create with abandon and with a desire to transpose the griefs that are at your door today!

Even in the solitude of our living rooms, our studios or practice rooms, this work of creativity joins the throng of pilgrims across this barren land, transposing fear and despair into hope, joy and life.

Let’s raise our hands together, transposing the grief of our daily lives and that of our world by creating and making beautiful things! In so doing, we will walk each other home with a song of joy.


5 thoughts on “Transposing Grief :: A Call to Hands

  1. Margaret Hart says:

    Oh, Jennifer! My heart is full to overflowing as I read this beautifully written Psalm of Lament, Psalm of Joy. Thank you for your poured out heart. Thank you for your recognition of our drawing near to Creator God. In your artful living you are truly a disciple and an apostle. My sketchbook is open and my eye is looking.


  2. Martha N. says:

    Heartfelt thoughts put into beautiful, uplifting words. What we make is not silly or frivolous as I often think. The time making is not wasted. Thank you, thank you!


    • We need to keep on stitching and making beautiful things Martha! For our own sakes, for our families, and for our world! Here’s to all the beauty you bring into the world and to your students lives!!


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