My grandpa was too old, and I was too young
To buck hay bales in the hot July sun,
So we sat by the truck in a puddle of shade,
And he taught me to weave the balin’ twine braid.
Welcome to my front porch. Campfire coffee’s perking over coals. Prop your feet up and join me gazing at the two hawks soaring in a cloudless, powder blue sky, circling in sync over the freshly planted Spring barley field. They’re in no particular hurry. Neither are we. If Eugene Peterson was with us, he’d say:
“Rescue us from a life in which the wonder has leaked out.”
We both take a Deep Breath of Remember, then swap stories ‘bout things that help us grow in our relationship with the Triune God we both love and serve. Here’s mine:
The balin’ twine braid is simple. You take three strands of baling twine, tie a knot in one end and start weaving the strands by crossing the outside one over the middle one, first left over middle, then right over middle, repeat.
Girls grasp this early as they braid their hair for beauty and practicality. For me, growing up without sisters, it took some training. But by age 12, with this simple routine passed down by my Grandpa Fred, I was creating lassoes, climbing ropes, bridles and halters for my horse, and a myriad of other cool farm-boy stuff.
It’s my go-to activity for remembering. Remembering is the crux of my faith. Ever notice how prominent remembering is on the pages of scripture? David rehearses the wonders and acts of God on behalf of His people repeatedly. So does Jesus. How marvelous it is that God remembers His covenant with us and acts accordingly to save, protect, and lead us through the trials and joys of life as He ushers in His kingdom!
There’s something intimate about remembering. Remembering slows us down. Weaving the balin’ twine braid creates a rhythm that breaks through the seductive pull of frenetic, heart-numbing activity.
We both take a few minutes to braid a foot-long strand of rope and tuck it in our back pocket.
Later, we pull out the intertwined rope, fondly notice wrap by wrap, and practice the healing rhythm called remember. Remember where we really need to go for affirmation. We see our Father wrapping Himself around us, calling us His own, telling us He loves us. We see Jesus wrapping Himself around us, smiling, pouring grace into our wounds like balm. We notice the Holy Spirit delighting in us, talking with us, listening to us, understanding us, and never leaving.
There’s another place to encounter this beautiful rhythm. At the end of each church service, our pastor sends us out with a benediction. We, the congregation, extend our hands to receive a blessing from God. It’s the final movement of God’s liturgy. God Commissions Us.
The benediction varies, but here’s an example:
“May the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always.”
A good thing to tuck into your back pocket. Maybe your purse. Or, better yet, your heart.
Photo by Ron Silflow
Here’s another perspective on the Balin’ Twine Braid.