I do some cross stitch embroidery every now and then. I stitch to remember, to give something of myself that my hands have made for those I love.
It seems a straightforward task, but the small, precise stitches are challenging. One dropped thread can skew the outcome, marring the master pattern I’m trying so carefully to follow.
“You knit me together in my mother’s womb,” David marveled. “I have been fearfully and wonderfully made.” I glance over at Ben, Down Syndrome evident in his features. Did God miss a few stitches? Or could it be part of a much larger, more beautiful pattern?
In the beginning of time, Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves to cover their newfound feelings of shame, when their arrogance divided history between innocence and selfishness in the garden. It was a futile attempt to mend their separation from the Holy.
Have we not all sewn coverings for ourselves, loath to expose our weaknesses and sins before the eyes of others? Hoping to hide our need and yet longing for healing?
The opposite of sewing is tearing. Tearing of clothing was a sign of deep grief, of regret or sorrow, in Bible times. We have all experienced a rending of our souls, ragged edges exposing our need, our pain to the cold.
“There is a time to tear and a time to mend”, Solomon once said, wisely describing the purposes driving the ebb and flow of our lives.
Have we not all experienced some painful tearing? Are we not all, ever so carefully, being stitched back together by the hand of the God who came for just this?
God is not loath to tear what needs tearing: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!” the prophet cried. And then, one day, He did, His first breath taken under a sky split by glory.
At His last breath, another rending – the temple veil, with its elaborate stitching by the most gifted artisans, violently ripped top to bottom; an opening, once again, into the holy.
I tie off the thread, consult the pattern. Reach for another color. I think of threads in my life that have come to their end. The adjusting as the pattern shifts. The tiny stitches that each contribute to the person I am becoming. I think of Ben, woven into the fabric of our family, our church, and our community, every thread where it belongs. I think of the ragged edges of my soul, being carefully tended, tenderly mended.
It is God who mends, who heals; who brings ragged pieces together into a stronger whole. It is he who embroiders our lives, making our mended and mending places especially beautiful under His care. Ashes into beauty. Death into life. Despair into hope. Turmoil into peace.
Stitch by careful stitch.