Spiritual Pathways

The windows in my new house are odd sizes, ruling out ready-made window treatments. Fortunately, I know how to sew. Home economics was a required class for girls in my elementary school, and I learned to sew when I was eleven years old.

I started sewing most of my clothes and then clothes for others. My younger sisters grew up wearing dresses I made—and later, their daughters did the same.

In just thirty minutes, I could take a yard and a half of fabric and change it into a skirt. Sewing was magical.

The whirr of the machine was a white noise that transported me to a place of silence and sharpened my focus—it was just me and what I was creating.

I was continually fascinated by the idea that a few cuts and some stitches could change an ordinary piece of fabric into something wearable.

Sewing became my icon for transformation—if I could work such magic, imagine what God could do with me, how God could cut away the excess and reshape me into something completely new and different.

Of course, the fabric gave itself over completely for me to rework it. I, on the other hand, have a free will, and it can be a very strong will.

Over the years, I have sewn clothes for a number of people. I once made a raw silk skirt for one friend and a wedding dress for another. One friend calls me every Thanksgiving when she dons the apron I sewed for her more than twenty years ago.

When I took a job that required a great deal of travelling, my sewing time diminished—a sewing machine does not travel well. Knitting became my go-to creative outlet, and I carried my yarn and needles around the world.

Gradually the amount of time I spent sewing dwindled to almost nothing. I don’t think I even touched my sewing machine during the nine months Jim was sick.

Jim’s illness gave him lots of time to ponder, and he processed the events and relationships of his life. He also thought about what my life would be like after he died. We knew that I was going to move to Michigan, and he wondered if I would live in the city or if I would plant a new perennial garden. He thought I should live near a lake. One day he suggested my new life should include sewing. It seemed so random.

But as I sat at my sewing machine the other day and started to make curtains, I remembered his comment. One of the things I miss about Jim is how tuned in he was to what nourished my spiritual life.




12 thoughts on “Spiritual Pathways

  1. Karen

    Madeline, you certainly have a way with words….I love how you tie everything together as if it was a recipe for life…all lessons from life! Just like ingredients for a special meal. Miss you lots!!!!

  2. Maria

    Hi Madeline,
    I’m forwarding your post to my daughter. She sews and I think she would appreciate how you made the connection between sewing and centering. There are so many different ways to renew ourselves and strengthen our faith. Thanks for the insight.

    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      Thanks Maria. I was thinking this morning about how easy it is to miss opportunities to see my faith through everyday activities. I am trying to live more purposefully and intentionally–so I will miss less of what really matters. I hope you are well.

  3. Sister Anne Marie Lom

    Jim did have a gift fur “tuning in” to spiritual reality.
    Since I don’t know how to sew, it seems magical to me! I love when people are willing to sew for me and the item fits “just right”. Maybe that fitting perfectly is an image of God I will be able to ponder. Everything that happens fits “just right” if I don’t try to reconfigure it. Thanks for posting this, Madeline!

  4. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    Anne Marie, I think Jim was able to assess others’ spirituality. He had strong opinions about people’s spirituality. I was always amazed at how certain he was about my spirituality. I was never that certain about my spiritual life, but Jim had absolute certainty in my commitment to my spiritual life. I now find myself trusting his strong belief whenever I start to wonder or doubt. He was also impatient with people who were only “playing” with their spiritual lives and not really serious and was sometimes challenged in spiritual direction by people he sensed were not ready to be serious.

  5. Jane Banik

    Madeline ,

    I love this blog. The thought of God shaping you into what He wanted is a thought I’ve had but I’m afraid I’ve been a bit more controlling in what I wanted. I haven’t left it up to Him. I’m still the same.

    Jim played an important part in your life. The good news is that you will always have those times to remember. You must know that you were good for each other.

    Fr. Carl invited St. John parishioners to be a part of a last procession in Mary’s honor Thursday evening. Notre Dame church will close at the end of the month. It makes no sense to me . . . To keep the school open but close the church.

    Grandson,Patrick and his wife Joy are leaving for their new Iife in India on the 30 th of this month for two years. His brother, Timmy has been in the hospital for three weeks for P.T.S.D. and left Monday for 3 months in a special recuperation and treatment center. Please keep them both in your prayers.

    I’ll be heading to Georgia for a week to play interior designer for Mike’s new home; then in August to a Penn State graduation of Colleen’s son. In between I am enjoying Colleen’s new shore home in Ocean City, N.J. And, I’ve been going to physical therapy which is turning out to be helpful. Had some change in medication issues and suspected T.I.S.

    Thanks for the blogs.

    Luv, Jane

    Sent from my iPad


  6. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    Jane, With you, so little reshaping was needed–you were a work of art from the beginning. Jim loved your sense of God and would sometimes comment on the beauty of your spirituality.
    I am glad you are enjoying family and the shore. Is Timmy the grandson who was studying neuroscience as Penn State. My prayers are with you and your family.
    Miss you.


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