E-Letter 164

Posted by on Apr 17, 2014 in Devotions | 0 comments

A helter skelter wind careened down the street, twisting and turning the stoplight as if it were a toy and forcing the high school students to run to their buses for cover. In the center of the schoolyard, a lone student huddled under the branches of a large Bradford pear tree, its branches waving furiously, arrhythmically, showering the manicured lawn with white blossoms shorn prematurely from the source of their life. The student, caught in an unexpected whirlwind of whiteness, looked up, and I wondered, “Does he hear the groans and notice the tears of an arboreal witness?”

In a hurry to get to my office, I prick my finger repairing a tear in an old white communion cloth that I plan to use for our worship service this evening. Over the years the cloth has been meticulously repaired by nameless women who have loved this community of faith. I marvel at the precise, evenly-spaced white stitches holding (literally) a tatted Jesus’ feet to the floor of the Upper Room! In contrast, my stitches are awkward, thoughtless, rushed, and I recall with some guilt, my mother’s insistence on doing a job “right” the first time.  My mother was a skilled seamstress who tried to share her love of this creative enterprise with a daughter too young to appreciate the patience it took to develop an eye for the time-honored art of sewing. How many times I watched her pick up her seam ripper to rip out a hem or zipper that looked satisfactory to me.  “Who’s gonna notice that it’s not perfect?’ I’d ask her in a voice dripping with youthful exasperation. Her lips holding pins, she would patiently remind me out of the corner of her mouth, “It’s important that YOU notice how a job is done, even if no one else does.”

I carefully slice through my pidgen stitches and gather the tattered white communion cloth in my arms. As I do so, I think about all the times this cloth has graced the Table in years past.  I imagine all the people who have stumbled forward to share the body and blood of Christ with others like them, their families and friends and a stranger or two.  I picture these saints coming forward in trust, believing that in doing so, their imperfect lives, full of holes, would be patched up by the God who grabs the tattered pieces of hearts caught up in the whirlwind of our helter skelter human existence and stitches them together. I carefully unfurl the white communion cloth and cover our makeshift Table, noting the cloth’s freshly-laundered smell as I smooth the wrinkles vying with one another to hide the unravelled edges of tatting supporting the now-sagging feet of Jesus’ disciples. It takes everything in me to keep myself from turning the cloth around so that this “defect” will remain hidden as I remember the events of a long ago night when Jesus, the witness to the costliness of Love, breaks bread with the disciples who will desert him before the evening ends. I walk around the Table, looking and wondering, “Will anyone hear Jesus’ groans and notice the tears being shed this evening – for us – by Love’s Witness?