God Sews

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“Like Christ, the blood-red thread weaves it all together, making something beautiful out of all of this pain and mess.”

By Kelly Chripczuk

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. Genesis 3:21

My maternal grandmother was a garment worker.  She worked at a dress factory in North Carolina, sewing on heavy, noisy machines, working so quickly that she sewed over her own fingers at times. She also sewed at home, making clothes for my mother–things they couldn’t otherwise afford on my grandfather’s share cropper income.

I like to imagine her working late into the night, piecing together bits of beauty and love, making out of scraps what could not be bought, clothing over, as best as she could, the shame of growing up poor and female on the edges of society. Her sewing machine was kept cloistered in an unused room that housed other valuable items like the good dining room table. This room was a holy of holies that I dared only to enter with caution. I didn’t touch the heavy machine that, with the help of one women’s creativity and strength, could create something out of nothing.

She made dresses for me too, in the factory, dresses that arrived by twos on my birthday; or Christmas, dresses bought at a hard-earned discount. Solid, pretty dresses, not frilly, but factory fresh with bows and ribbons, hanging in their plastic garment bags. Dresses I savored and saved for special days like Sundays and picture day at school. Dresses that fit like love, every stitch a kiss or caress.

*   *   *

I like to think how sewing was a result of the fall.  All of the rending apart of sin left creation tattered and torn like an old pair of jeans, scabbed skin poking through at the knees, mud caked-on heavy. God saw no option but to take up needle and thread and start sewing, first with leaves and skins, then with more delicate materials. Knitting, hemming, pulling together the tension of the stories, the lives, of the human race, of God’s children forever bent on going naked in a harsh world.

“How else can a mother provide for her children in a world bent on scarcity, a world coming apart at the seams? So God sews as fast or faster than we can tear through, bust through, the thinning knees of our lives.”

“Show me the rag bag of your life,” God says. “Dump out the whole chaotic pile on the floor here, yes here, right in front of us. Let’s see what we can do about it.” There’s a pause as she sorts through, sifting the ragged mess. “There’s beauty in these rags, we can make something of it yet. Hush now, don’t cry.” She roots for needle and thread and holds up the pieces one by one, laying them against each other, standing back with an appraising eye. “Look here, see how the blue in this one brings out the purple in that and how the pain and joy both deepen when placed side by side?”

God holds the needle high, wets the thread, then expertly threads the needle’s eye. God sews in tight, strong, even stitches with bright red thread, always red. Thread as red as blood as it follows the needle, piercing the material even as it mends it together.  The red thread enters, like Christ, through the holes in my life, the threadbare places, frayed and falling to pieces. Like Christ, the blood-red thread weaves it all together, making something beautiful out of all of this pain and mess.

*   *   *

I learned to sew from my mother, who learned from her mother before her. I worked slowly on her clunky old machine making clothes for my dolls, then myself.  In college, I sewed wonderfully long, flowing hippie dresses and taught my friend the art as well. I don’t have much time now, or space, to sew with the trappings and demands of four children filling my days and nights sometimes too.

As I sit down at my computer to write, I get a familiar feeling.  This computer is my sewing machine and these words are my thread and I am sewing, sewing, sewing it all together. Here I sit, day after day, teasing out the threads of my life, holding incongruent pieces together, laying them side by side in the light of the One who sews for me.

I used to think the job was mine, to sew all of this together, this mixed bag of goods.  That is a load of pressure no one can bear. I feel freer now. I am not sure now exactly what my role is in this jumble of beauty and light, darkness, grief and sure death. I cannot help but sit back and smile ‘til the tears come as I watch God working with sure hands, drawing together what was put asunder, like some crazy quilt of beauty and glory and redemption, creating anew from these tattered old rags.

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So, my dear SheLoves friends: 

  • How do you relate to the image of God sewing the threads of our life together?
  • What legacy has been passed down to you from the women in your family?
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About Kelly:
Kelly Chripczuk’s life was turned upside down with the suprise arrival of twin boys in 2011.  She is a licensed pastor, blossoming spiritual director and firm believer in the power of “little things” to change the world. Kelly now has four children six and under and is very thankful to have the. best. husband. ever.
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Original image credits:
– Women sewing in a shop, from Kheel Center, Cornell Univeristy’s flickr stream.
– Red background: Shaire productions
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Daniela Schwartz
I am a happily married mother of two gorgeous boys ages 2 & 10. I write, create and decorate. I am passionate about all three. I also love naps and staying in my pyjama's all day. I haven't figured out if this is due to laziness or depression, possibly both. I think Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened. I have a twin sister so if you happen to run into me and I ignore you or seem rude, it is probably her. You can tell if it's me because I look a little younger and am slightly prettier (wink). I blog about life at danielaschwartz.com
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