on doing fine things well

I am the kind of person who is prone to small, fiddly projects, like knitting a sweater in fingering weight yarn or translating Ovid because I don’t trust other people’s translation of the Metamorphoses. Because of this, I frequently get stuck in the middle of doing fine fiddly things that require concentration and more time than I feel these projects should rightly demand of me.

Because of this, I am often left with the question – is it actually worth doing these fine things, and especially is it worth doing these fine things well?

But more fundamentally, is it worth doing fine things at all? And is it worth doing things that take so much time?

Then yesterday, as I was journaling, I began to think about the slowness of things. The slowness of translations, the slowness of healing, and the slowness of struggle.

Fine things, hard things, are often slow, like working on a translation. In a translation, half an hour can yield this:

And she represents the earth struck by her spear
Bringing forth a blossom of olive white with fruit

Metamorphoses 6.80-81, translation mine

Is all this debate about the interpretation of a participle or whether or not this should be taken as a dependent clause or a prepositional phrase worth it? Perhaps.

Fine things like healing are often slow. I have been out of the hospital for not even two months, and I expect myself to be better and to do better, especially since my injuries are not visible on my body. Yet today, the feast of the Forerunner, was the first day in months I was able to make it through an entire Liturgy without leaving.

Is this, the process of putting myself back together with more exterior supports than I thought possible, worth it? Of course it is.

Fine things, difficult things, are often so slow they go at the pace of a snail, like the Christian struggle. Here, I hope I remember to say my prayers, and there, I hate that I forget. But slowly, the days that do build up, and they are the ones that change me.

Is this struggle for Christ worth it? Without any question at all.

These fiddly fine projects are slow, and moreover, they are not strictly necessary to my personhood. So why do I have questions about their value?

So this is the value of doing fine things well: each stitch, each word, gives me an opportunity to take one measured step at a time, to not rush the process, and to glorify Christ with every breath. This is what I need above all, and maybe by writing it down, I won’t forget.