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A kilim and prayer for Iran

A Christian Science perspective.

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Last fall, a kilim – a rug made in the Tabriz Valley in Iran – taught me a useful spiritual lesson.

I was in California for my niece’s wedding. While we were at the house, an Iranian neighbor asked for our family to help turn a large rug she was drying on her garden wall. We struck up a conversation about this beautiful Persian rug and her homeland of Iran. After we admired the rug we had just turned, the neighbor mentioned that she had two rugs inside her house that were for sale. I went inside and took a look at them and ended up buying the one she called a kilim.

The conversation was very helpful in light of the worrisome press coverage about Iran and the threat of nuclear proliferation. I’ve never traveled to Iran, but I know and pray to see that the perfection of God, good, is being expressed there right now. I also pray to know that there is no separation by culture, religion, or politics that can thwart the love of God.

As I studied the patterns in the kilim, I could see the dedication and careful attention to detail that went into it. The pattern and colors show a sense of beauty and love of perfection. The rug has a utilitarian purpose, but, at the same time, shows man’s highest desire for bringing beauty and delight into one’s daily life. I saw this as a lesson for us all to strive to bring such standards into the things we do.

As a carpenter, I have often felt that such care and desire for quality and craftsmanship are an important part of each project. In the book of Exodus, God is portrayed as the author of man’s desire for such a high standard of workmanship: “And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship” (31:3-5). Perhaps this list could include “and in weaving of rugs.”
God’s creation comprises many different strands of right ideas woven together to create one beautiful pattern.

As I thought about this, I was struck by a citation from Psalms 119:176, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant,” as well as the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:3-7. One by one the sheep make up a flock. And every member of the flock is valuable. Isn’t this true of the world? In addition to worshiping one God, Jesus reminded us to do good, to love our neighbors as ourselves. I could see how I was called on to think about the Iranian people as very much a part of God’s flock.

The weaver starts with an idea, then makes a pattern, and then – strand by strand – a rug. Each piece of wool, taken as a byproduct of the flock, proves the value of that individual sheep. I can look at this entire kilim in a glance, but those intricate patterns remind me that God’s creation is made up of many different strands of right ideas woven together to create one beautiful pattern. Everyone from God’s flock is counted.

As I think on these things, I feel a sense of companionship with those who wove the rug and with the Iranian people who, like people of all cultures, have a great desire for peace, beauty, and purpose. And as Paul the Apostle, who traveled throughout what is now the Middle East, reminds us: “I was free born” (Acts 22:28). God’s fabric of creation is complete, woven with good.

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Mary Baker Eddy wrote these lines in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering? Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it? Then you are haunted in your work by vicious sculptors and hideous forms. Do you not hear from all mankind of the imperfect model? The world is holding it before your gaze continually” (p. 248).

There is a real urgency for each of us to pay attention to the correct model of the Middle East and the world: a model that sees every nation, including Iran, controlled by God’s attributes of “substance, intelligence, wisdom, being, immortality, cause, and effect” (p. 275). That way, Iranian people will be embraced as part of the world’s fabric, a necessary part of a perfect and complete pattern.

From the Christian Science Sentinel.

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