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The Power of Art to Redeem

I was driving downtown when it caught my eye. I had to drive around the block again to make sure I wasn’t just hallucinating. (Strong black tea will do that to you.)

Yep, it was really there. Someone had knitted a sleeve for a public bike rack.

In the coming months, I would drive by that bike rack many more times. Sometimes through rain or snow. Do you know that every time I drove past it, I smiled. Who wouldn’t? I mean, in case you missed my earlier sentence, let me repeat it. Someone had knitted a sleeve. For a public bike rack.

I live in a pretty diverse college town so I sort of wrote it off as one of those quirky things that comes with living in Kent. And, just when I was getting used to it, that same someone changed the colors to a very Springy sleeve. For the public bike rack.

Then, as it warmed up and I started walking around town more, I noticed that there were also knit sleeves for the spindles on the staircase in the library. And a viney-looking one on one of the signposts near a flower bed in the town square. And little flowery hats atop fence posts.

At this point, I was hooked. My curiosity was taking over and they had me. What in the world was all this knitting about?!?! Here’s what I found out. (Because I know you’re curious now too, right?!?!) These local, random acts of knitting were being done by someone(s) who called themselves Yarnigami. I also found out that it’s not just a quirky Kent thing. It’s a worldwide phenomenon called yarnbombing. According to Wikipedia, yarnbombing (also called yarn bombing, yarnstorming, guerrilla knitting, urban knitting or graffiti knitting) “is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn or fibre rather than paint or chalk.” The first recorded case of it was in 2004 in the Netherlands.


Why am I telling you all this? (Setting aside the obvious fact that the whole thing is awfully intriguing!) I’m telling you about this because it strikes me as a thing of beauty. Besides the fact that it is technically illegal, there is something about yarnbombing that reflects God. It is the act of taking the ordinary – dare I say even the ugly – and making it into something unique and beautiful. God does this all time. With the broken pieces of our lives, with the depravity of our hearts, with the injustice all around us. He makes beauty from ashes. He straightens the bruised reed. Like the Gungor song so poignantly says, He “makes beautiful things out of dust. [He] makes beautiful things out of us.”

And because you are made in His image, you do too. When you bring beauty and creativity to bear on your world – your family, your home, your neighborhood, your workplace – you make beautiful things. And that points us back to Him. These simple acts are reminders of redemption.

As Madeleine L’Engle says in her book Walking on Water, “In art… we are helped to remember some of the glorious things we have forgotten, and some of the terrible things we are asked to endure, we who are children of God by adoption and grace.”

Yarnigami takes a rusty, old bike rack and makes it into a thing of intrigue. In so doing she redeems it. And that reminds me of Jesus.

Which forces this question: how about you? What are you doing to bring beauty and creativity to bear on the world around you? How are you participating in redemption – even in small ways – so that those around you are pointed back to THE Redeemer? 



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