Scissors in hand, I make the first cut through nappy flannel. Schwick, schwick. The sound of the cutting fills the silence of my Sunday afternoon.
As I cradle the rest of the fabric in my lap, memory rushes in. These beloved pajamas, gift from a big boy to a little boy; gift from One Who Had Outgrown Them, physically and emotionally, to One Who Was Growing Into Them.
My oldest son, now six years old, he has worn these jammies every winter since he was four. They almost fit him this year, no need for rolling up the ends that trail across the floor. Next year, his legs and arms will have grown even more, and the jammies will not drag the floor at all. And the next year? Will he be too big? Will his skinny ankles lay exposed below the cuffs? Will these jammies fit at all? Will he even want them to?
I turn the fabric and begin a second cut.
That big boy who once wore these little boy pajamas, the big boy who goes ahead of my own little boy and whom my little boy watches with admiration, he is learning much too early the weight of sorrow and humanity. What 13 year old is ready to know the meaning of words like oncologist, or metastatic, or chemotherapy? What mother has the strength to help her son shoulder the burden of surgery, feeding tubes, blood draws and treatments? And what mother is able to do that, and be available to love and care and cuddle her other five babes?
These are weighty matters. If only strength were something that could be put in a box, wrapped and given. “Here, I have a little extra today, friend. I’d like for you to have it.” If only it worked that way.
I turn the fabric again and start the final cut. Schwick. Schwick.
Not knowing what else to give, I give what I can. I cook, and I shop, and I pray. Most of all I pray. And it is these prayers that I want most of all to share. I know they are felt in that mysterious way that one feels the prayers of others. But I want them to be felt. I want them to be tangible and real. I want them to be eben ezer, to be a present help and a future reminder of what the Lord has done. I want them to be a comfort and a covering.
Which is why I find myself cutting a hole into these jammies, a small piece of fabric, to be stitched to another small piece of fabric, and those to another small piece…again and again until all of these ragged scraps are unified into one mosaic gift. The squares of friends joining with squares of family joining with squares of people I don’t even know, each square a prayer–many prayers–offered on behalf of this big-boy-who-is-still-too-little.
And this square, now free from the jammies, will be added to the rest. A gift that was once given to my little boy, now being given back again. And as I begin to patch the hole in the jammies, I think that this is how love works. A continual receiving and giving, an ebb and flow, a tide of sustenance that brings in strength and comfort when it’s needed and then releases them back out to others when we have extra. And the source of that tide, the vast ocean beyond that stretches from horizon to horizon, is the deep and wide pool of His love for us. It is never-ending and it knows no limits. And it is from here that my own small pool is supplied, allowing me to give from my shallow depths without fear of running dry.