Monday, February 2, 2015

Sewing a quiet seam, stiching together a new life. --QM

We have been in Greenwood, DE for two weeks now, and the sheet has been hung in a retirement cottage, just a stone's throw from the Country Rest Home. Here is a picture, for proof:
We've settled in quickly, pulled all our boxes out from the attic (James and Dorie positively squealed when reacquainted with their forgotten toys), made many short trips to see Grandma Polly and Grandma Alene, looked into possible education options for Ethan, and I was hired for a part-time position as a para-professional, working with an adult education program. What a whirl-wind of a beginning! I've been excited and thankful for this chance to be here with my family and Delaware friends, but when I have a still moment, and look inward, I feel the faint catch in my throat of disappointment. In my mind's eye I see us a few years ago, the last time we were living in Greenwood, full of purpose and certainty about what we were doing and where we were going--calling our friends and family to get excited with us. And now we are looking for work, to feed our family, to find a second car, a house, to perhaps even go back to school for something completely different.

At this point of my musings, I'd like to paste into this blog excerpts from a sewing poem. Yes, a Sewing Poem. First, a word about how I found it! Next week my mother and her sisters have their yearly sewing retreat, a week and a half long extravaganza of fabric and thread, scissors and Bernina sewing machines, mothers and daughters and granddaughters all gathered in bonds of industrious creativity. Well, I get to join them for three days! One drawback is that I have a strong dislike of sewing. So, I'm bringing my paints and sketchbook instead, and to prepare, I've been doing Google image searches relating to quilts and sewing. Tucked in a distant webpage I found this little poem that hit my heart. (Click here for the complete poem)

I Sit and Sew

By Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson

I sit and sew—my heart aches with desire—

That pageant terrible, that fiercely pouring fire

On wasted fields, and writhing grotesque things

Once men...
You need me, Christ! It is no roseate dream

That beckons me—this pretty futile seam,

It stifles me—God, must I sit and sew?
Its not that I don't enjoy Greenwood, in fact I'm thrilled to be in the ESL field, its a life-long dream. But as I read this poem, I see Alice, the poet, sitting in her home, frustrated that she isn't involved in more than just the quiet things in life. I see a temptation in myself to do the same--to chafe instead of bloom.
Dear Alice, you think Christ needs you, but he doesn't, and you don't know how he values humble service. I've determined to live as his expendable crewman, and if that means to sew at something small, I'll trust that in his hands it will become an everlasting quilt, a masterpiece to be unveiled in heaven's economy. Goodness knows I've wanted and tried to be on the front lines where "writhing grotesque things/once men" wished for rescuing. I believe though, that the greatest front line is the one in my heart, where I fight pride and selfishness, and that goes with me wherever my address.

  We shall see what sort of quilts and paintings and laughter will come from next week's sewing retreat. I believe strongly that creativity has an eternal quality, that in some way the beauty we start on here on earth will be taken up again in Heaven. I'm proud of the way my mother has given herself to her great quilting talent, and she always makes me wish I would paint more (For a glimpse of her work, visit her blog).

I found another little piece in my web-hunt, with quite a different attitude toward sewing than Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, and I'll close with this quote from the fictional 'Aunt Jane of Kentucky' by Eliza Calvert Hall (Here's her book):

"I've been a hard worker all my life, but 'most all my work has been the kind that 'perishes with the usin',' as the Bible says. That's the discouragin' thing about a woman's work. If a woman was to see all the dishes that she had to wash before she died piled up before her in one pile, she'd lie down and die right then and there. I've always had the name o' bein' a good housekeeper, but when I'm dead and gone there ain't anybody goin' to think o' the floors I've swept, and the tables I've scrubbed, and the old clothes I've patched, and the stockin's I've darned, but when one of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren sees one o' these quilts, they'll think about Aunt Jane, and, wherever I am then, I'll know I ain't forgotten."

Here's to the small things in life, to living in Delaware, to sewing a quiet seam.


  1. Amen! Thanks for sharing, Queena. I appreciate your heart so much and how you have asked God to "bloom where you're planted." I'm glad you are here and we can journey in Delaware for a while together.

  2. Queena, I just found your blog. I met your aunt Mary Ann via blogging some years ago, and I remember reading your mother's blog from time to time. I remember when you got married. I do not know the circumstances of your having left the mission field, but I sense that there is a sadness that goes with it. I just want to share something that has stuck with me. I had a friend who had been a missionary with her husband and children, and they needed to come back to the states after she experienced deep depression. When healing did not come quickly for her, she brokenly asked the Lord one time, "Is it okay if all I can ever do is sit at your feet and worship?" She felt Him say to her, "That's all I ever wanted." I don't know if that ministers to your soul or not. I know it did to mine. Blessings to you and your family in all your transitions.