Seam Ripper

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Image courtsey of Markus Winkler, Unsplash

Whelp, not sure you can imagine what I’m talking about here, but if you follow my work, you may have a sense as I often start with some sort of vague (at least to me, ha!) allegory. So with that, let’s talk about seam ripping and Wednesday, shall we?

Something I was quite familiar with in my twenties, was seam ripping.

It was a regular activity for me, especially during my (lone) sewing class as a fashion major. I remember thinking, ahh, I won’t need this class; it will be so easy, as I had previous sewing skills and knew how to sew. But one thing after another (and some choice wrong decisions invlolving fabric and the “expert” level of patterns,) all the sudden I realized all I was an expert in was pulling out seams, ripping them apart, thread loop by thread loop. Fabric, from one piece back to two again, over and over again; was such a long and disheartening process. At the time of course, I had wild, wonderful fashion design skills and grand ideas, but me and sewing machine? Seems we never quite understood each other or how we were supposed to get along. My understanding was this: I sew these two pieces together as one, and you do your job sewing machine, and not mess up or knot up or be all wonky. So, like the copier we all can’t seem to get along with, me and my sewing machine, well. I did a lot of seam ripping. I still have it, the blue seam ripper tool. It serves a purpose for both things – for actual use, and a reminder for do-overs, for try agains, for mistakes. And also, all the cuss words muttered and emotions involved.

In my twenties I was also familiar literally and figurately with the seam ripper. I spent a lot of time in my twenties with other versions of the tool – gossip, division, animosity. Usually not used on purpose, but I was a seam ripper to some degree. Mostly because I was white, privileged, and never sought out any viewpoints or perspectives beyond my own. It wasn’t until much later that it occurred to me that the world did not revolve around me and my viewpoints. But up until that point, sew and rip, sew and rip. Always ripping things, seemingly, as I thought I was trying to bind together things in union. Friday nights particularly, were a division – when friends were “busy” I wondered what was wrong with them. Why would they do anything else than go out for margaritas at a posh bar to complain about life over several rounds? Isn’t that what everyone did?

But now I see. In fact, I see a full 180 from before – I like a nice quiet Friday night. Especially with my family. And later, a good book. (It’s also perhaps because I’m old.) Either way, I’m thankful for the switch in perspective. It’s opened my eyes beyond myself and my own understanding and experiences of the world.

And, in a great irony – the fashion world (read: working retail) was what matured me about how other people live, spend, exist, get by. What kinds of deals they make with power and/or money, also, how that isn’t everyone, not every customer or co-worker. And that in fact, some are just trying to get by. Some just need a dress for their new promotion; some are looking for recognotion, for someone to finally see them, remind them that they exist, and some? Some are just happy to have a little extra money to buy something nice for themselves, finally. And some are all the things you see in The Devil Wears Prada. (It was so good because in a way, it was a dead ringer.) And of course, fashion, in a way, is it’s own power. To sum up: I learned the world is full of nuance and needs and power and injustice and hope and utter fragility. And we do damage to each other while also being in bed with the hope we create.

But Wednesday? Life didn’t feel very full of nuance, or of any glimmer of hope. It felt like a lot of damage.

I’ve largely kept myself quiet on the major social networks for several reasons. One being, am I adding to the division? And two, if I’m not, am I adding to the conversation? Or does what I’m thinking need to be expressed to a mass of people, knowing that those close to me know how I feel?

But as a person of faith, I have a call to speak out. Which is honestly, at odds within my own self: As a (human) person of faith I want to say that what happened at the Capitol was awful and vile and an act of evil and shame, shame, shame, but the faith/God in me also compels me to remind myself and others that “they” are still God’s children. They, too are God’s creation, though many of us might agree that they’ve gone too far sideways from truth and are in bed with power and oppression and the opposite of Jesus’s actual tecachings.

And here is the great dichotomy for me – this holding space, this liminal weird world into which I’m called – that while calling out the oppressors, we also realize we’ve been the oppressors. And that we are also called to remember we’re all God’s creation, all of us. Even the oppessors. Even those we deem as “them,” other, somehow seperate from us. When in fact, we’re all us; we’re all them. All of us are in this together.

But to be clear: just as you would help toddlers understand that hitting a friend is not okay with toddler-level consquences, those that were part of the attack on Wednesday need to have feel the (adult version) of consquences for their actions.

Meanwhile, to (finally) wrap up, someone somewhere mentioned this little bit of advice, this loose little thread of hope I’ve been carrying around in my pocket for some time – in a sermon? A book? Someone’s mother’s advice perhaps? I can’t recall where I heard it, but I’ve clung to it ever since, like a fairytale that helps you to get through to that elusive thing called sleep when other remedies haven’t helped. The thought was somewhere along the lines of “…If there’s division, hate, chaos, well, it’s clear the story isn’t over.” At the time it sounded like make-believe; honestly, there are so many things lately that have ended badly, awfully, horribly; people gone way too soon, weeks and years lasting way too long.

But in the message, tucked away like a hidden key, is I think, a bit of redemption, the thin little pink thread of hope I’m hanging onto at least: that if we think this is where the story ends, or if it’s over, it’s not.

Image courtsey of Marilia Castelli, Unsplash

We’re in the midst of labor pains and that space where we’re all wondering how it’s going to turn  – for better, for worse? – but we’re also in a time and space of madness, misuderstandings, strife. So what I’m telling myself, reminding myself of these days, because of my faith and because I know we can be a better people than (waves around dramatically, indicating, all of this) the story, well the story simply can’t be over yet.

Not yet.

Not until there’s a thread of hope, or redemption, the beginnings of peace. And not until we learn to gather all of our tiny threads of hope and bind them together for better, for equal, for more, together.

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