Sew Good

Image by Tamaa66 from Pixabay

Fathers and mothers: Go and lead your child by the hand into the church. ~ St. John Chrysostom

The primary goal in the education of children is to teach, and to give examples of a virtuous life. ~ St. John Chrysostom

The primary lesson for life must be implanted in the soul from the earliest age. The primary lesson for children is to know the eternal God, the One Who gives everlasting life. ~ St. Clement

When your children are still small, you have to help them understand what is good. That is the deepest meaning of life. ~ Elder Paisios

The innocence of young children is an enormous blessing, however… depending upon the child, adults should also be mindful that children’s pure, simplistic understandings and literal perceptions, may on occasion lead to misunderstanding.

I remember being very young – maybe around four, and first hearing the odd expression, You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Already knowing silk was shiny, pigs were pink, and what a purse was… it came to pass, a few days after learning that a sow is a female pig… I watched in horror and fascination as my grandma began to sew (on her treadle of trauma) a shiny, pink satin, triangular pouch – for my toys.

Once upon a breakfast, she presented me with said pouch. I ungratefully took it (pincer-like), between thumb and forefinger, tore off to my bedroom and flung it into the depths of my closet of no return. Fifteen minutes later found me chomping contemplatively on a piece of toast with a couple side strips of bacon (that obviously grew on trees, like spaghetti), as I sat and pondered the demise of the poor, valiant, pig-girl who inadvertently became my toy-bag, now doomed forever to my closet… and silently vowed to never, ever, to use it or her.

Later, upon learning the real meaning of the 15th century silk purse/sow’s ear proverb, I promptly forgave my grandma and felt like a twit.

Children can and do indeed take things quite literally, and may – by adult standards, think the oddest things.

Two examples on “the literalness of kids” shared with me:

  1. How on one Thanksgiving, a three year watched her grandfather brandish the carving knife and fork, and about to slice into the turkey, cheerfully lilted in his thick Scottish brogue, “Well, now lassie, that’s one BIG BIRD!” She inexplicably burst into tears and wept inconsolably into her mashed potatoes, repeatedly sobbing,“Bee-Bee, Bee-Bee!” Finally, someone twigged that Bee-Bee was her pet name for Big Bird from Sesame Street and they all set her straight.
  2. How in a family of three siblings, when a four year old brother first heard that every third child born in the world is Chinese, was crushed to later learn that he wasn’t Asian, and just “child number three” in his family.

Although I learned to hand-sew well enough, and enjoy embroidery, I never mastered my grandma’s treadle sewing machine… nor the ornery electronic counterpart of it in my grade 8 Home Ec class. But, over the years, I’ve come across some really cool and countless allegorical sewing aphorisms.

Regarding tenacity… there’s an old Chinese proverb I love that says, Perseverance can reduce an iron rod to a sewing needle.

What a wonderful reminder that through steadfast efforts (and unexpected gifts of blessings), we may acquire various swatches, patterns, fabric, and other materials as needed… for tailoring, and repairing our spiritual Garments of Grace... Quite Literally, and – in a Good Way!

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