I rolled the thread from the spool a length just past the end of my arm, thread light blue like a summer sky. I slipped it in the eye of the needle on the first try. I pulled the two loose ends together, smoothing out the distance back toward the needle. When all was even, I knotted the end just like my mother taught me, close and tight.
Sewing is no hobby for me, so on New Year’s Eve morning, when I looked at the frayed edges of the rug in the laundry room just one too many times, it took about 10 minutes searching for a sewing kit to know if I could even salvage it. When I finally found the little cylinder kit with needles and samples of thread and the tiniest scissors, I knew what I had to do.
Fix the thing.
The rug has been torn for several months now. I bought it after my realtor vetoed the old tan one with the rubber backing before the first open house. The tan one that now sits on a shelf in the garage came from a yard sale; I got this new blue one at Target.
With a rambunctious puppy, I didn’t feel bad about the yard sale rug getting a little chewed up around the edges. But the Target rug that I paid full price for? I nearly cried when I saw the corner all ripped and frayed. Tilly got her nose smacked, and I, overwhelmed with having my house for sale and my little sister’s wedding coming up and my step-dad’s cancer and the stress at work, I felt like my nose had been smacked too.
Why fix it? I thought. It will just get chewed up again. So for months now, I have walked over the rug with the frayed corner, a little too frayed myself to really care.
With the threaded needle in one hand, I pulled the rug onto my lap, dirt and dog hair shaking down on my pants, the bench, the floor. I wasn’t really sure how to fix it now that the weave had been disrupted, and I just had that thread and a needle. I considered again just throwing it out, even at that late stage, because honestly, I have the money to buy a new one. I also considering washing it, folding it up, and taking it down to my mom’s house. She’s always good at fixing torn up things.
But I want to be good at fixing torn up things, too, I reminded myself. I want to hold broken, ripped things in my hands and with simple tools and simple attention make them whole again. I can figure this out, I tell myself, looking at the frayed mess.
As I start smoothing out the fibers, making sure the blues and the greens and the browns and the yellows are all going in the right direction, I hear the lyrics to Gungor‘s “This is Not the End” from my Pandora station. And somehow I know I was meant to sit here this day, at the end of a painful year, holding onto this little rug that nearly couldn’t be fixed, and figure it out.
This is not the end
This is not the end of this
We will open our eyes wide, wider
This is not our last
This is not our last breath
We will open our mouths wide, wider
And you know you’ll be alright
Oh and you know you’ll be alright
This is not the end
This is not the end of us
We will shine like the stars bright, brighter
I just start sewing. I pull the needle in and out, connecting the ripped up pieces of the rug together with each loop and circle, pulling tight when I put in a whole row of stitches at once. Pieces that originally didn’t even touch each other are now connected as the thread follows the needle everywhere I push it and everywhere I pull it.
It’s not looking too good, this little corner of the rug, but as I keep sewing and adding stitches, the rug itself has resumed the shape of wholeness. And just because I think I should, I go back over the whole area, mimicking the pattern of the weave, hoping to create a little unity.
As I fix the rug, a little corner of me feels healed up and whole again, like what I am binding here on earth is being bound in heaven. And this little act of pulling thread behind a needle over and over again feels like the call to bring wholeness to other broken things. To be merciful, to be shown mercy.
Gungor lyrics from “This is Not the End” from the Ghosts upon the Earth album, Copyright © 2011 Brash Music