Holiness in our midst – Session 7



Do you have a beloved belonging?

I have “Poncho.” It (rather, “she”) was created from several skeins of variegated (orange, yellow, white, and rust) yarn the winter I turned 23. Fresh out of the University of Missouri, I was an eager young journalist at the Canton (IL) Daily Ledger. As exciting as it was to be on my own, I needed soft touches around the edges of my new deadline-driven life. In stolen moments, I knit this bit of warmth and comfort, inching my way to completion by spring.

Many years later, my portable home base has traveled to 22 states and five continents. She has logged time on trains, planes, buses, and automobiles. Most often she has been a shawl or poncho, my sole wrap through decades of springs and autumns. But she also has been pressed into service as a blanket, a bedspread, a huggy pillow, and a footrest. She even cushioned a wild ride in a Land Rover through a long night in what is now South Sudan. She has been in enough religious and ecumenical settings to acquire a soul of her own.

I took her for granted until last spring when she turned up missing. I thought she had been stolen from my car while I was paying for gas at the local Kum & Go. I was irrational, railing to anyone who would listen about the rise of petty crime in my town of Nevada, Iowa. I waxed eloquently about our shared history and my profound loss, feeling utterly displaced without her; I was like Linus without his security blanket. A week later, she came back to me, encased in plastic on a hanger—all neat, clean and ready to go again. She had somehow fallen into my dry cleaning bag.

I keep better watch over my sidekick Poncho now. If she had disappeared, I still would have a record of our time together, but my life would never be the same. When I look through my scrapbooks, she keeps popping up. There she is, or rather, “we” are: at a scenic overlook, posing with my father in the Colorado Rockies; framed by a tree in my grandparents’ driveway on the family farm; at a church gathering near Sao Paulo, Brazil; and in a group photo with District leaders at a historic Church of the Brethren in Greene, IA. She is quite photogenic, more so than her owner, in truth.

As an introvert, I’ve appreciated her value as a conversation starter through our decades. She has been as effective as a cute puppy—but without the high maintenance. In supermarket lines, restaurants, and airports, she elicits the question: “Did you make that?”  I proudly answer yes. There always follows a statement that my poncho recalls a grandmother or aunt, the “Sixties,” the “Seventies, the “Flower Child” era, or an article of clothing now lost. I’ve even gotten offers to make one just like it (for lots of money) from strangers.

Poncho is getting a little frayed around the edges now. Like her owner, she is beginning to show her age. I’m not ready to give her up, because she has become “real” to me. In The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, the toy rabbit asks: “What is REAL?” The Skin Horse says, “It’s a thing that happens to you. When (someone) loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?  asks the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, “…Generally, it doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time…”My Poncho has earned her “Real” status. She is loved.

Do you have something that has been a beloved traveling companion through the years?


STORY CIRCLE QUESTION: Do you have a beloved belonging? Why is it special?


  1. Read the above story.
  2. Ask yourself: What is my beloved belonging?
  3. Reflect on this belonging in your journal: When did I acquire it or create it? What gives it special meaning? Has it traveled with me? What relationship(s) do I associate with it?


  1. Read aloud Session VII.
  2. Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Question.

Question to ponder: Can we get too tied to things?