The patient seamstress
“Faith is the patient seamstress
who mends our torn belief,
who sews the hem of childhood trust
and clips the threads of grief.”
— Joan Walsh Anglund
I think this poem captures the essence of how faith operates in most lives. Some claim to have had dramatic revelations or sudden moments of truth, but for most of us, faith is a less flashy force. All of us have times when our beliefs are torn, our childhood dreams unravel and our thoughts seem a messy tangle of confusion. Faith works to hold things together, patiently reinforcing what remains of the thinning fabric of our existence.
And speaking of childhood, I wrote a post awhile back in which I quoted a different poem by Anglund from memory, having first read it in my youth. Since I wrote that post, there have been a few postscripts to add. As it turns out, I quoted it fairly accurately, although the volume in which I remembered seeing the poem, A Cup of Sun, (copyright 1967) was not the actual source.
Instead, I found that it came from a companion book published three years afterward, A Slice of Snow, (copyright 1970) which– this is the funniest part– I actually had sitting on my own bookshelf in York County, all along. I didn’t need to quote it from memory after all, but as this photo shows, I did get pretty close to remembering the text without knowing where to look for it. I had looked online, unsuccessfully, for quite a long time, hoping to verify what I was writing. I had totally forgotten that A Slice of Snow, which I knew I had, was the book from which the poem I remembered had come.
The most fun part was how I discovered this mistake. A blog reader in a distant state, who read the original post linked above, was kind enough to locate a copy of A Cup of Sun and send it to me. What a joy! I re-discovered many other poems that will probably end up being posted here eventually, along the one quoted above. I don’t know whether the person who sent me the book noticed that it was NOT the source of the poem I quoted; if so, it was tactfully not mentioned.
Now both books sit side-by-side on one of my bookshelves in Alexandria, since this is where I write most of the posts.
So here is a case of old meeting new. On a blog that appears in a format I could scarcely have dreamed of when I first read the poem, I shared it and then received back another forgotten bit of my own past. It came from someone many miles away, with whom I am in touch through the present wonders of technology, shining brightly on a past interwoven tightly with the present to create a unique gift for me here and now.
I think that’s magical. It makes me believe that the increasingly tattered, faded cloth of my life, mended slowly and patiently by faith again and again, still has a place in the vast gallery of the shiny new turbo-charged world where almost everyone is younger and stronger than I am, and much of what I value is deemed useless by the cold-blooded calculation of modernity.
If you have needed a good bit of mending in your own life from time to time, you probably will understand. And if you have yet to reach that stage, know that when you do, the patient seamstress will be awaiting you.