Sunday, September 11, 2016

On Visible Mending and the Handiwork of God

A skirt I made from a vintage tablecloth
caught on something while my daughter wore it,
and a big, 90 degree tear resulted.
I thought about letting the work of my hands go, but it bothered me.
The tablecloth had been stained, and had holes in it when I found it.
I had carefully cut around some of the leaves in the border,
and applique-patched them over the holes.
I dyed the skirt a soft gray, which hid the stains.
I liked how I had taken an object that could not be used as it was created,
and repaired and restored and remade it
into what I thought was a lovely garment.
Now it was torn, and the tear was not able to be hidden.
I have heard my whole life that if a seam tears, you can repair it.
But this wasn't a seam.
It was ruined.

I set it aside for weeks, not willing to toss it,
but not knowing exactly how to fix it.
The cloth I made it from was long gone.
There was nothing to patch it with.

One day, looking for an embroidery project for a friend,
I came across visible mending on Pinterest.
Oh, my!
People were doing this on purpose, and loving the mended project
even more than something new and pristine.

I pulled the skirt back out, and sat down to make it useful again.
Instead of trying to hide my repair,
and pretend the damage had never been done,
I used embroidery floss with its subtle shine,
and stitched far more stitches than were necessary for usefulness,
enjoying every one.
That particular rip would not likely rip again.
When I finished, somehow I loved this handiwork
even more than I had loved it before.

I looked the skirt over, and found a couple of worn places
and a small hole I'd not noticed before.
I added a spiral of stitches over a worn place.
An embroidered rose to fill a small hole.
I'm too invested in this fabric now to toss it lightly aside.
I'd rather repair it.
Restore it.
Redeem it.

The useful has become a work of creativity and art.
A poetry of stitches instead of an exercise book sentence.
A painted portrait instead of a police sketch.
This shows the soul of the image -- not just its hair color and mouth shape.

This morning I was reading Nehemiah 9:17:
"[They] refused to obey, 
neither were mindful of Thy wonders that Thou didst among them; 
but hardened their necks, 
and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: 
but Thou art a God ready to pardon, 
gracious and merciful, 
slow to anger, 
and of great kindness, 
and forsookest them not."

I looked up several words, but it was that last phrase that arrested me.
He forsookest them not.
He didn't leave them.
He didn't depart from them.
He didn't leave them behind, let them alone, abandon them or neglect them.
He didn't let them loose, set them free, or let them go.
They were not deserted.
All those things come under the first meaning of the word.
There was a second meaning.
To restore, repair.

"For we are His workmanship, 
created in Christ Jesus for good works, 
which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
(Ephesians 2:10) 

Oh Lord -- I am so full of torn places --
stains and holes. 
My flaws are all in the body of the fabric, not the seams.
Don't let me go.
Repair and restore me. 

But He does more.
He makes beautiful things -- stitches art into our mending.
We are His workmanship, the Scripture says.
His creativity repairs us uniquely.
In places, His handiwork becomes far more visible
than the original fabric was,
His stitches the only thing holding any of it together.
Where we are stitched will not match anyone else's repairs.
Unique to our flaws, His creativity, and the material at hand,
each one becomes a newly-made creative expression in His overall masterpiece.
We are all worked into the whole.
Maybe you've thought of yourself as the worst patch.
But He repairs, remakes, restores --
and places you into the whole
as a trophy of His love and creativity.

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