Joel 2: 12-18
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?'”
Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.
Rend your hearts, not your garments is one of those Biblical phrases that speaks deeply to me. One definition of rend is “to perform an act of splitting”. Throughout Scripture rending has much to do with tearing our clothing in an act of penance, an outward sign of pain, anguish, repentance. To be outwardly repentant is challenging, because people will stare and quite frankly who wants that. Well, I can see the purpose, because ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday.
So for a bit of a deeper look at the word I went to Merriam-Webster. Rend has, as most words do, another, stronger meaning. To split, or tear apart by violence; to lacerate mentally or emotionally; to tear (hair or clothing) as a sign of anger, grief, or despair. We are asked here to rend our hearts, not our garments. We are asked to be open our hearts as a sign of grief, anger, despair, to lacerate (cut open) mentally or emotionally.
Stopping me cold “to lacerate mentally or emotionally”. The image in my mind is Jesus on the Cross. Everything that led up to that moment when he surrendered, opened his Heart fully to humanity, his humanity. To all the raw emotion, the vile hatred turned towards him, in his most vulnerable moment.
Then I got to thinking about the heart rending decisions I’ve made in the last couple of years, some personal, some quilt related, and some experiences in the quilt world that have left me raw, wounded. These have caused me to back away from pursuing the thing that I love the most: quilt making. Has my heart hardened? Probably. Am I doing my best in quilt making? Am I pursuing this passion with reckless abandon? The answer is no. Instead of opening up, I’ve closed off, pulled away, hearing and experiencing these temporary things as some kind of message that I don’t belong in the quilt world.
Rend your heart, not your garment.
As quilters our hearts are stitched right into our work. We are gratified and built up when our quilts are loved and accepted. So it’s very personal, and quite painful when our work is rejected in some way. Our hearts are rend, torn open, in grief and anger. We wonder if all the work we’ve put into our quilt making is worth it. Sometimes wondering if we can take the next stitch.
We can, and we do. I can and I have. The stitching has slowed for a lot of reasons. It hasn’t stopped. Perhaps it’s time to open the heart again. To revisit the places where I’ve said, “I’ll never do that again” to let the love of Christ wash over that moment, that experience.
It is that rending of the heart that allows love to flow in both directions. It allows creativity and kindness to hold hands and flourish. This rending helps me to grieve for the loss of some relationships, let go and be free.
Quilt makers do something incredibly special, we take perfectly good fabric, cut it up and stitch it back together. We REND fabric. We see something beautiful, something more than in the fabric – we see potential.
Oh my goodness as I wrote this morning Refiner’s Fire started worming its way between my ears. I know I’ve talked about hearing a story on silver or goldsmith work before. Not sure where at the moment but the bigger point is, gold and silver are simply metal until they are heated to the melting point and then made into something beautiful.
Fabric is pretty until we cut it up to make clothes or Quilts! We are beautiful just as we are, and we are something more when we are cut up and stitched together with other pieces. Oh Father in Heaven, than you for allowing me the opportunity to REND my heart, that you may stitch me to something beautiful.