In parts of the Orthodox Church, the ecclesial year starts with September 1, which has always felt right to me living among the schools of Boston. A new creation begins in so many of our communities at this time of year. Know I am grateful for the ways that each of our churches begins again in the holy work of worship and service. Thank you. Bless you.
I’m beginning something new, too- a sabbatical time for learning and restoration. I’ve served as Executive Director for nearly 7 years and am ready to take a break. The good news is that the Massachusetts Council of Churches is a sufficiently strong and healthy institution for me to do so. I can feel myself a little threadbare, and in need of repair. I long for a world of labor and compensation where all people are granted sabbatical rest and restoration. I know the privilege of a sabbatical and I am grateful.
From September 4-December 4, 2018, I’m stepping away from the day-to-day work of MCC. I’ve received a generous grant from the Louisville Institute for a project called “REPAIR & RENEW: Mending & Quilting as Models for Christian Institutional Innovation.” We talk all the time about “repairing the social fabric” or mending Christian communities wrought by divisions of racism, sexism, trauma and all manner of violence. There are times when it feels like this country is coming apart at the seams. I need to learn with my hands what it takes to repair what has been torn apart. I need to learn with my hands what can be saved and repaired, and what must be cut up for patches.
Here’s what I need from you, Church. First, I need your prayers- for me, for my colleagues Rev. Meagan and Rev. Kenneth and the Working Board, and for my family. May God mend what is torn in me during this time, and strengthen the bonds of faith.
Next, I want you to mail me your scraps. Is there some old stole, worn kneeler, altar cloth, embroidered bible cover or deconsecrated textile that you are willing to share? Include a note on where it came from. Mail it to:
Massachusetts Council of Churches
138 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02111
You can follow the Hashtag #MendingChurch mostly on Instagram, and when I get to it, the website https://mendingchurch.com. I’m going on pilgrimage to visit the African American women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama who quilt communally, making objects of beauty and utility from scrap. I’m learning sashiko, a Japanese embroidery style that began as the patching of men’s fishing coats and became a high-contrast indigo and cotton stylized art. I’ll learn from the British women who took up the “make do and mend” mantra during World War II rationing, and now a whole new generation is learning these practices now across “mending cafes” in the UK.
My hope is that I’ll develop a workshop on mending a spiritual practice. Think if it might be a helpful workshop for your parish in the future. We’ll bring our tears, our holes, our beloved but worn garments together and sit before the One who longs to repair what has been torn.
PS- During this time, I won’t be checking work email, but my colleagues will monitor it. Similarly, I won’t respond to Facebook messages.