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!

Concerning Bubbles

Bubbulsh: A toddler’s pronunciation of Bubbles.

Bubbles: A short-lived, transient phenomenon, as seen in feature photo.

Bubbles during these times: A small group of people with whom one solely has close social or physical contact. Bubbles are now “exclusive” in the sense of once we’re in one, we can’t form new bubbles.

Before COVID, we already existed in family, school, work, worship, or recreational bubbles… of all shapes and sizes, and for various lengths of time. Some bubbles were comfortable, others not so much.

One of my first experiences of a Daily Bubble was the Kitchen Table Bubble… grumpily eating breakfast cereal with another sibling before school. The way the teaspoon would annoyingly clank against their metal dental braces… or the way they would just breathe at me across the table. Not a morning person, I unknowingly made the Kitchen Table Bubble, unpleasant for everyone… including myself.

My first recollection of a Restrictive Bubble was the Blizzard Bubble… when my kid brother and I were snow-bound at our grandma’s. It felt like a month, but was only a couple of weeks. A no-nonsense, pious woman, her unique approach in resolving cabin-fever-fueled sibling scraps was by encouraging us with contests to memorize Psalms. The mercenary winner could receive anything from a penny to a nickel, depending on the accuracy of the recitation. With delusions of wealth and riches, my brother and I ended up with a combined total 27 cents, although we can still recite by heart most of what we learned – and that’s actually priceless!

Unfortunately, in between the Psalms, we also discovered how to use a Bible Concordance, learning how to creatively admonish one another using scriptural quotes, in childlike ways… and out of context.

Him (justifying a slushball to my mouth): “Leviticus 19:17.” (“Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart.”)

Me (refusing to pass the pancake syrup): “Proverbs 25:16.” (Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.”); Then, graciously passing said syrup: “Proverbs 25:21 -22.” (“If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.”)

Him (besting me): “Proverbs 25: 24” (“It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.”)

I could go on, but you get the picture.

During this past year, the initial new household restrictions sometimes bestowed joy and blessings. Families who could make it positive, spent extra quality time together… such as playing board games, or doing communal projects and hobbies.

Many acquired new skills! Some examples shared with me are friends and family who have taken up new crafts like knitting, painting, baking, and learning how to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow in Klingon, on a ukulele.

Sometimes when we’re stuck inside a bubble for quite awhile, it feels like we’re going to pop.

When we forget to look up, we miss the light that make our temporary bubbles beautiful and iridescent… our small spheres become distressingly dull and nitpicky. Loved ones’ Foibles may seem to have duly earned the right to be spelled with a “capital F”.

Husband: “Did you know you always sniff once upon entering any room?”

Wife: “Did you know you always take three bites at a time when eating corn on the cob?”

I could go on, but you get the picture.

A wonderful passage which can be applied to anything, particularly Concerning Bubbles, is Colossians 3:12-16.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

We may miss the opportunity of being with more family. We may miss our friends, and coming together to worship. This is good.

But, if not careful, it can become a downer if we let it. Sometimes we do. Forgiveness and love are the keys to Bubble Tranquility. Bubbles became what we make them… ranging from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

A dear, wise, priest rightly encourages us to remember, “This is just for now.”

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