She, Created by the Creating One

I wrote the poem below on the occasion of my mother’s death. She often sewed through the night to complete a piece of clothing for me to wear to school the next day—that morning. Looking now on her work through those nights, I glimpse something about God’s creative work on behalf of those in our midst who with determination and courage clothe themselves in God’s love and grace.

Burning Midnight Oil

A solitary light beaconed from the distance
in the wee hours just before
dawn cracked open the darkness.

Burning the midnight oil.

The Creating One in the beginning of beginnings
—sewing and seaming, stitching
roots into the earth, fashioning fine 
spring things to adorn bluebirds and bumblebees
daffodils and dandelions, embroidering soulful
soil with a smile and breathing into it a 
sigh of delight. 

Burning the midnight oil.

A solitary light beaconed from another window  
in the wee hours just before 
dawn cracked open the darkness.

Burning the midnight oil.

She, created by the Creating One
–whirring and chirring, snipping and clipping,
weary-wise fingers urging one more scrap
of this bit of blue, that piece of red
beneath the ever-marching
needle-foot of that old Singer Sewer
Model 301A she kept coaxing and
cajoling into action one more time
to fashion an Easter dress or a pair
of jeans or, one time, a man’s leisure suit.

Burning the midnight oil.

All other eyes in the house, on the street, shuttered tight
while she followed with single-hearted gaze
thread that danced and dipped beneath the
material surface, not noticing the
pale winter moon kissing her hand
as the clock ticked on until she sat back
and embroidered into a girl’s last minute
request a tired sigh of delight.

Burning the midnight oil.

A light beckons; vital 
sacred strands spool on at the unfurling edge 
of a new crack in a resurrecting dawn, fervent
fibers holding us together
—held in our hands—
you and I piecing together hope from
torn and tearing hearts, called by the 
Creating One.

Burn the midnight oil.

Author: Jill Crainshaw

I am a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity and an ordained PCUSA minister.

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