Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Year-Old Regret

One year ago, I made the mistake of not nominating one of the members of the Theotokos Threads Society for a service recognition in our little town. The local paper was running a feature allowing community members to nominate a noteworthy citizen. She should have won, and probably didn't because I wasn't obedient to a voice within me that prompted me to put her name forward.

I've regretted that daily in the past 360 and five. I won't say who she is, and it may be hard to guess because the Threads Ladies are some of the most amazing handmaidens of the Lord that I know. I will only paint her picture in words.

She sends me short emails. "Call me now" in the subject lines or links, and she is one of the ladies who've rescued me in sickness.

Last night my sinuses, swollen and dry, were punctured by the snarled roots of cracked wisdom teeth. She offered to help me fix them. In fact, this is third lady in the society who has paid for, or offered to pay for. health-related emergencies that I cannot afford myself. I would be much sicker without their help. I feel sheepish around them though. I am somewhere between humbled utterly, spiritually and physically destituted yet grateful, and a bit ashamed that I cannot provide adequate payback for such generosity.

She brings her threads to society meetings and she's always making something for someone else. They all are, these Threads' gals. She dragged us to the parish hall last year, for wine, chocolate, scissors, patterns and ultimately, she stitched together dresses for Haitian girls. She sent them with a local doctor who goes there every year with Doctors Without Borders.  She's knitted mittens for my kids, her kids, the neighbor kids, the girls at the Women's Resource Center. She's made blankets and dresses and quilts.  She and, at least two different ladies with the Society, are often busy with baby blankets in vibrant colors. Some hers go off to foreign lands for the orphans she couldn't rescue when she rescued her adopted son.

She drives. She drove to Chicago for one of two mother-daughter double dates we did. The other date we rode the bus to, - NYC, and walked for 12 miles plus. Still, she had to come all the way to Pennsylvania to do this, and considering how homesick I was for my St. Stephen's Parish family, I was thrilled at her arrival.  I've collected a few such experiences since then. I could tell you of another Thread member whose now driven my son to Indianapolis for classes so my husband and I could go the All-American Church Council, and who drove us to the airport and picked us up at all hours for missions trip flights. These women all fall into a type, do you see? They are such servants.

This particular one- whose story I started to tell, and from which I waiver as I realize how amazing they all are- she drives for the VA every week, taking broken old men in wheel chairs and struggling young mothers fresh from Iraq and Afghanistan to doctors' appointments.

Did I mention the other Threads mother who drives her two-year old to therapy every weekday and sits in a library and a coffee shop, so her son can learn to speak as he did last night. Her labor bore fruit last night at Vespers, when her autistic boy kept saying, "Glory Forever!" over and over after the priests said it. What silly grins she and I exchanged.

But back to my original story: Did I tell you how my Threads friend snaps up milk and bread on clearance and hauls it to the Hub on Saturday mornings so that families can have some bread and milk that week? Or that she brought me cases of tomatoes the first summer we moved back and that is how my poor budget and body existed for a few weeks? I suppose I should have put them up, but they got eaten my favorite way, with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Did I tell you how she shows up every where? She was the Spelling Bee master this year. For three or more years, she supported her eldest son's WWE-style wrestling hobby. She fed burgers and hot dogs to his buddies while they set up a ring in the backyard, dressed in flashy nylon outfits and staged out elaborate fight plots. She goes to her middle son's football and soccer games. She takes dance lessons on Saturdays with her teenage daughter and performs in the spring. She's studying stats right now, I think, to test out of math and return to classes for nursing school. Did I mention she has a master's already? She used to teach special needs children.

She has an uncanny way of noticing lonely people and starting conversations with them. You can see how the aspect in their spirits sparks up when she engages them. She doesn't let mothers take their kid to the hospital, or the big, scary doctor's appointment alone.

She makes the women at the local women's resource center pray the Trisagion on her day to lead prayers before counseling sessions.

Oh, my, these women. I could mix them up in my heads and they all deserve those own stories. There are some who worked as court-appointed advocates. Some who raised six beautiful adults who are faithful servants of God. Some with golden crowns of hair who teach other people's difficult learners as they taught their own children. Some who pray and suffer faithfully for their children. Some who protected abused neighborhood children. Some who feed hungry kids from next door or down the street or around the block. They take furniture and coats from their own homes to clothe and house others who had a house fire. They'll cook any day of the week for someone who is just home from hospital. They stockpile magazines and candy for the troops. They've taken Bibles to China and grandkids to Greece and Russia. They have wept with children over the sickness of their kittens and rescued cats from disease. They make lovely jewelry and give it away. They appear at appointed times and feasts to festoon our halls and press our altar clothes and arrange the flowers grown of their own hands. They ensure there is always enough food at coffee hour.

They have crowns of white hair, and salt and pepper hair. They are all sizes, ages, shaped, eye-colors, and interests. They make me want to weep. They remind me of Langston Hughes' line,

"Beautiful too are the faces of my people."

But this one, she represents something about who I want to be. The tropar to today's saint, St. Nicholas, says he lived the Gospel. So does she, zealously. A year ago, I missed the chance to recognize her and the type of woman the Threads represents. She is someone to raise up before others. Every woman in the Society is worthy of recognition, but some of them would respond very differently if their name made the paper as a servant in the community. This one, I think, would wear it in a way that makes us all see the best in ourselves, regardless of our gifts.

(This is not to exclude a single noteworthy one. That would pain me.)
I just am so very grateful. Did I mention, it was her inspiration that produced the name, Theotokos Threads Society? She just kept emailing links to icon pictures online that showed the Theotokos knitting the red curtain that is purported to have been torn asunder when her own Son died on the Cross.

Glory to God for all things!


  1. I know who this is ;), and I want to be like her. Glory to God for her life and example! Thanks for sharing.