Of Scars and Blankets
I followed the trail of blood from our library across our living room floor. Drops of it had congealed on the carpet in our bedroom leading like bread crumbs to the bathroom. My wife, Sherry, was hunched over her bathroom sink running cold water over her hand. She had cut herself. Again.
Let me pause here and assure you that this was not a deliberate act. Sherry likes sharp scissors. Very sharp. She sharpens them regularly. Why does she like sharp scissors? The better to cut her blankets with. A few years ago, Sherry learned how to make blankets from simple material. Not the intricate quilting most people know about. These blankets were made from two pieces of material with ties around the edge. What made these blankets different from any other involved the process of constructing the blanket. Each tie around the edge is made while saying a prayer for the person for whom the blanket is given.
In time, our library, once the province of my books, was transformed into Sherry’s blanket production center. Over the past few years she has produced dozens and dozens of intricately designed, colorful blankets. Each blanket has a singular colored back piece and a very colorful front piece. And the designs on the front she has chosen to match the intended person’s personality.
When she found there were lots of scrap pieces left over, she developed a way to make smaller blankets as baby burp pads or tiny blankets of dolls. Nothing was wasted.
But, the heart of her endeavors are the prayers and the Bible verses. Sherry developed a laminated card containing the favorite prayers of those who knew the person for whom the blanket was intended. Sherry would ask various friends and relatives for their favorite Bible verses and then place them on a large laminated card attached to the blanket. You see, the blanket was more than just a piece of material. It was a creative act of worship, prayer, Bible reading, and very intentional in every part of its creation.
Today, I am sitting on the balcony of our condominium on the beach at Perdido Key, Florida. Sherry and I are talking about the Bible verses we have just read in our morning Bible readings. What you must understand is how creative is our daughter, Casey. She draws. She paints. She creates constantly. It is her way of working through her epilepsy and its emotional toll on her life.
I write. I have written since I was a child. Poems, novels, short stories, essays, blog posts, devotionals, presentations. You name it. In fact, I can’t NOT write! It is my way of working through so much going in my tumultuous mind.
For Casey and for me then, creativity is an act of worship; an act of communing with our Creator; a reflection of His creative works in our universe and in our lives.
But, this morning, as in many of our discussions, I reminded Sherry of how creative she is. She doesn’t see it that way. She thinks she is just throwing things together. But, this is not true, I remind her. She is using her imagination to visualize the colors and the patterns that best match a person. She imagines which Bible verses best suit that person’s needs. And, then, in an act of undeniable creativity, she puts those thoughts; those prayers; that intentional caring into a finished product. This is creativity at its finest!
Imagine, if you will, a blank canvas. No, we would have to go to an even more primitive thought. Imagine there is nothing. True nothing. No space; no world; no universe. Imagine God looking down at His hands and thinking and imagining something out of that nothing. It’s not something that is thrown together hodge podge. No, this something will need design, structure, laws, order, and most importantly, purpose.
To what purpose? Beings who will reflect God’s person; God’s image; God’s qualities of love and compassion and, yes, creativity. Imagine God blowing into his empty hands a simple breath. This is not just hot air. No, this breath contains all of the potentiality of what became our universe. Stars, planets, galaxies, elements, light, heat, gravity, neutrons — contained in one simple breath; one simple Word as He spoke our universe and all of its complexity into existence.
But, don’t miss this one point. Sherry doesn’t make blankets for her own enjoyment. Making art for art’s sake can become an act of idolatry! No, she is creating for a purpose; for the fulfilling purpose of lifting up a fellow human being. Her act of creativity, while satisfying a need within her own life has the ultimate purpose of satisfying a need in the lives of others. She makes blankets to bring glory not to herself, but to her Savior!
God brought this huge, complex universe with trillions of interacting, moving parts into existence for one reason: for you and me. He designed all of this to give us a home. Everything that has ever happened since the moment of creation until now had been totally intentional. Everything is “going as planned”.
But, the creation is not without cost.
Now, back to the blood.
Sherry had cut her finger. Again. When Sherry is very active making her blankets and praying over each knot, her fingers are covered with bandaids. If you were to look at her hands, they would be covered with the scars of healed cuts. Each scar is a testimony to her perseverance, her compassion, her unrelenting desire to create something for someone else. She has counted the cost and has not let it stop her.
There is Another whose hands bear scars. These scars ran red with blood from another act of creativity. Oddly, this act of creativity involved something very destructive. It involved death. It involved transformation of something physical into something transcendent. The final product, though scarred, was, in fact the most beautiful sight in the history of the universe. From the tattered remains of a broken, bruised, torn body our God brought forth from the tomb a new life; a new form; a new Way in the person of the resurrected Christ.
Jesus, our Savior, counted the cost of the cross and decided the final product was worth every cut, every drop of blood, every cry of pain. For Jesus Christ saw beyond the creative process to the Finish Line; He saw the power of the empty tomb. God breathed into his empty hands his Word knowing the price of creation would be the death as His own Son on the cross. His love for us; His compassion for us; His desire to embrace us with his unfathomable grace was worth the cost. His imagination far exceeded our feeble grasp of reality.
Today, I challenge you to use your imagination; to use your creativity — a reflection of the creative core of our God — and change the world for the better. Write a poem. Write a letter. Send a card — the act of picking it out to match someone’s needs is an act of creativity. We are all creative. Count the cost and do not fear paying that cost. The cross was cost enough!