Feast of St. Tabitha, Oct. 25

 

Acts 9: 36-42 in her own words…

It was the sweetest sleep ever. For the first time in ages, I didn’t need to be busy, achieve or accomplish, just rest. No whiny demands, no rude interruptions, no desperate pleas for help. Being “completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving” takes its toll—I was exhausted. But as I slept, I dreamt of the beginning…

 

Always I had loved fabric, the ways its color could dance together, or light a sallow face. The way it draped across a figure could camouflage the flaws and accent the lovely curves. I’ve always been intrigued with the contours of cloth, its weight and shimmer in my hands. Into my coastal town, Joppa, flowed imports from around the world. So I was enchanted with Roman linen, Chinese silk, Arabian sunrises woven into stripes. I imagined women at their looms everywhere, pouring their artistry into this tunic or that skirt. I too created clothing. My name means “gazelle,” and I designed cloaks that swished with the animal’s swift grace. Threaded through the garments were the stories: this shirt made for my husband’s birthday; that shade matched my daughter’s hair or son’s eyes.

 

When I first heard about Jesus, I was captivated. The man spoke my language—and enlarged it somehow. Of course I was drawn to his examples: “Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them.” I could understand that first-hand. All my spinning and weaving couldn’t come near the softness of petal or the radiance of the lily’s throat.

 

So I was dreaming of a field of wildflowers, bending in the wind. Their fragrance filled me with joy. And Jesus was woven in somehow, just as I’d weave a rare gold or copper thread into a fabric. He knew too about not sewing a new patch on an old garment. He spoke my language in a way no other teacher did.

 

Then a distant growling ended my beautiful rest. Peter, that bear of a man, blundered into my sick room. My cherished friends showed him the tunics I’d embroidered, the cloaks I’d made as strong protection against the heaviest winds. They were wasting their time—the guy didn’t know satin from sandwich. But his voice was kind as I heard him say my name as through a tunnel, “Tabitha, rise up.” Where had I heard those words before? [CF LK 8:40-42, 49-56 & Mk. 5:41, “talitha, koum, maiden get up.”]

 

The call to life was familiar but at first I protested. NO! Let me rest. I’ve earned it. Please don’t make me everyone’s savior again. There’s only one, and Jesus was all we need. Enough of do-gooding! Can’t I just enjoy that dreamy meadow? But the touch of a hand on mine was warm, comforting, life-giving.

 

As I struggled stiffly to my feet, I remembered others who’d made that precarious journey: the daughter of Jairus, Lazarus, Jesus himself. Death to life was taking on another connotation to me, though. To be God’s precious daughter, I didn’t need to DO anything, serve anyone. I could take it easier. I could enjoy just being myself. God wasn’t nearly the steely-eyed taskmaster I had set myself. During that sleepy time of great happiness, I had been still, and free and blessed. I could do it again. If God “so clothed the grass,” I too could wear the green gossamer fabric of trust. I rose to a different awareness.

 

As my vision gradually focuses, I notice Peter’s cloak is ripped. Vaguely, I start planning. Think I’ll show him how to thread a needle…

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