Minister’s Message: Sacred Stitches

Jan 30, 2024 | Beacon, News, Top News

When Jenny and I started to talk about the number of unfinished projects we had, we laughed as we recalled how many years it had been since we had started the projects. I shared that I had been carrying around an unfinished quilt for more than ten years.  I had started it in Massachusetts, packed it when we moved to California, and now here it was still in a box, put away just like many other things that I love to do but put aside because it seems that I just never have the time. 

How excited I had been when choosing the bright and whimsical fabric! How satisfying to learn how to sew a patchwork quilt, to marvel at the random yet beautiful configuration of the squares. What a novel way to “meditate” and lose myself in the humming of the sewing machine and the dance of the colors between my fingers. During the time I spent sewing, my mind felt free of worries, only focusing on keeping the fabric in place, replenishing the thread in the bobbin, and trying to keep the cats from running away with thimbles and thread spools. Then came a time to make big decisions that would lead to huge transitions. Finishing my doctoral dissertation and graduating, accepting a ministerial call in California, saying goodbye to my congregation, friends, and for the first time in my life,  living far away from my son. 

The unfinished quilt traveled across the country. There was no time for quilting when I was trying to get acclimated to a brand new life, a challenging solo ministry, getting to know my new congregation, helping my mother process this big transition, and finding ways for us to build community. The years went by and the quilt remained unfinished, out of sight but never out of mind. From time to time I would find it when looking for something else. I would touch the fabric, and quickly refold it and put it back in the box. 

So when Jenny and I started talking about unfinished projects and it being the beginning of a new year, I jokingly blurted out that we should get a group of people together to finish the projects that sat waiting for us in boxes. She said that it actually sounded like a good idea and that she would attend such a group. She had been working on a dress for three years and would feel encouraged to finally make those button holes! And that’s how “Sacred Stitches” got started. I started with an email to a few people that I thought would be interested. Then the email list grew and by the time we had our first meeting, about twenty people had responded asking to be added to the list. 

The day arrived when we would gather in the North Room. I took my sewing machine and the quilt to church. One by one people arrived and revealed their amazing projects. People joked that my sewing machine was “very quiet” and laughter erupted in the room. Having the quilt on my lap and a belly laugh was all I needed to feel the joy stirring in my heart. I spent most of the time  trying to get my rusty machine to work, and ended up sewing by hand. I delighted in holding the fabric once again (grateful that the moths had not found it), and took a moment to look around the table and feel the wonderful energy of so many creative people joyfully knitting, coloring, making cards, quilting blue stars, crocheting fluffy blankets and magical mermaids, embroidering green ferns, yellow flowers, and bright eyed orange foxes. It was truly a sacred moment that brought such joy to my heart! I felt as if in unfolding this unfinished quilt, I was unfolding too, now in the midst of a new community. 

That evening felt like an act of collective love made holy by our laughter, camaraderie, and connection. There was no judgment about how long it had been since we had started the project, or about forgetting how to thread the sewing machine, or the fact that the quilt intended for a baby now would probably be for a grandchild. I felt held in this circle even though I was meeting most for the first time. This was community building at its best! I can’t wait until our next meeting. In the meantime, I send you all my best wishes as we continue to unfold our story, to stitch together our dreams, and to realize that it is never too late to start again. Stitch by stitch, we are building the Beloved Community!

With Gratitude and Love, Rev. Maria Cristina