As we begin our summer break I have been thinking about my summer sewing projects. There is always a list of projects waiting for those too hot summer days when I can’t go anywhere else but my air conditioned sewing room. For those of you who are sewers, knitters or do cross stitch you know why these days are special. For those who don’t have the pleasure of the gift of stitches the practice is multipurpose.
Part of sewing is about the making of the item. Carefully choosing something that we love or that the receiver will love. Most importantly it is about the practice of making the item.
What was entwined in each stitch are the people and conversations about life and love, grief and fears, dreams and hopes we have long the way. The act of stitching became the act of practicing resurrection.
Each time I pick up a needle and thread I think about Dorcas. She was the first and only named female disciple of Jesus (Acts 9) and my soul stitcher. I imagine that widows would come and sit with her while she stitched, sometimes bringing their own cloth to learn the art of sewing. And as a bolt of fabric was cut into pieces, carefully sewn together, the item was gifted not to the person who had everything already but to the one who had the least. She had changed the lives of many in that community and now what?
Acts 9 is about her death and how they called Peter to support them as they grieved and shared stories about Dorcas. But what is interesting about the passage is what Peter does when he arrives. After listening for a while he asks everyone to leave and says to Dorcas’ dead body, “Get up!”
I think about these words often. “Get up!” Sometimes I say them to myself when I am feeling lazy but Peter had no reason to say, “get up!” to Dorcas. She had done great work, died and someone else would come after her and step in where she left off bringing new ministries and gifts. I can’t seem to figure out why Peter wanted to resurrect her?
I wonder if it is because the community had become so focused on the work and ministry of Dorcas, they had forgotten about the work of God’s hand. Dorcas’ resurrection is not just about Dorcas, but about recognizing God’s work in each of the women Dorcas touched.
We are all God’s seamstresses in our world today. Living stitch by stitch. Sometimes we get focused on the big picture and only see the really hard things that keep touching our tapestry…the biggest ones are change, fear and loss. In these moments our stitches are crooked, lopsided and seem to be going nowhere.
But if the lines were always straight and the spacing perfect then we would think everything was perfect and it’s not. It’s not perfect when bad things happen to good people. It’s not perfect when children die or when there is no safe space anymore. It isn’t perfect when people go home depressed, lonely and lost. It isn’t perfect when life seems to be unraveling at the seams.
Only God can look at the whole picture and see how our stitches fit into the tapestry. Only God can make the wiggles, turns and zigzags into resurrection moments. Ann Lemont says in her newest book Stitches, “Every time we choose the good action or response, the decent, the valuable, it builds, incrementally, to renewal, resurrection, the place of newness, freedom, justice. The equation is: life, death, resurrection, hope.”
We live into the resurrection moments stitch by stitch…confident that God will be resurrected in even the most difficult circumstances. And when we get caught up in the struggle, take a moment to command the experience or event to “get up!” Look at it from a different perspective to see what God might be creating in the midst of it. So I encourage you in the weeks ahead to be bold enough to say “Get up!” to events, experiences and places that don’t make sense, are frustrating or we just can’t figure out what God is doing. I promise you God is always doing something.