Frayed Threads Welcome Here
In August of 2016, our little family considered moving from Minnesota to Peoria. A job was offered to Mark in a town that I had never been to before, a place where I knew not one person. I wasn’t really worried about that. I have moved (alone) to places where I didn’t know a soul so many times that I’d have to actually sit down and write it out to figure out how many times I’ve done that.
Ok, I figured it out, since you asked. I have moved eight times by myself to entirely new communities, an unknown number of times within those communities, five more times as a child with my family and three times now with Mark. I have lived in seven states. That’s 16 pretty major moves.
I figured it wasn’t too hard to move to a new state and new town because I had done it so many times. I failed to understand that moving as an adult is far different than moving as a child. Becoming part of a community as an adult (with no job) is FAR different than being the new kid in school. I believed that church would probably be an important part of meeting people in this new town (moving from a small town of 250 people that was just outside of the county seat, population 15,000).
So, I started a systematic search of all churches in the Peoria area. I had different criteria that I was looking for as I obsessively procrastinated the packing and purging necessary to put our house on the market. Somewhere along the way, I came across Imago Dei. I read an article that a visiting journalist wrote about being in attendance on the day after the dance club shooting in Florida. I started following Imago on Facebook.
There came a day when I needed advice about Peoria and the housing market and wanted it from a neutral (non-realtor) party. I called Imago and left a long, rambling message.
Dustin Hite called me back, and at that point when he called a random stranger in need and spent an hour and a half talking about Peoria, faith, church, foster care, adoption and life...he started the process of weaving us into his community. We moved here and intentionally began the process of weaving ourselves into the community of Imago.
Last fall, there was a “date night” at Imago. For those unfamiliar with that, it’s when Imago will provide a night of babysitting for a few hours so that couples such as Mark and I can go have a meal together without a toy in a box being on the menu.
At this particular evening, before sending us on our way, Laura and Bryan Holmes talked briefly about choosing kindness and gratefulness amidst the drudgery of daily tasks. They do this crazy thing where they say “thank you” to the other when something like dishes are done. They said that choosing gratefulness was like weaving a small web of support to hold them up on days when that choice isn’t so easy to make. I’ve been thinking about that and all the ways in which it applies for many months now.
I think of that web of support in my marriage, with my kids and most definitely with my community. Every time I show up for someone or someone shows up for me, that action is not wasted; it is woven. In college, I once was weaving a scarf on a loom in the arts area of the student union. You set up the yarn, strung lengthwise and vertically rather tightly, and then passed a stick similar to a ruler with yarn attached through the loom going under a thread, then over the next one. On the next pass-through, you go over what you just went under, alternating each time. And at the end, you (in theory) have a beautifully woven rug, scarf or tapestry.
That’s how I see my community, my church, my neighborhood. Weaving beautiful threads of support through an existing framework, holding up what needs to be held up and pushing down what needs to be pushed down. I don’t have a pattern to follow, but I think that God does. I know what it feels like to be held up by these small, inconsequential threads of kindness, compassion, caring, inclusion. All together, it is a very strong product that can support a lot of weight simply because of the manner in which it was woven.
At Imago, I believe we are weaving a community tapestry of incredible beauty. We weave the dark-colored threads in because they are part of our life together, and we tie strength on to the frayed threads when necessary. The weaving continues day in and day out in big and small ways.
If you look back on your last few months and realize that the bright color that is you is missing in the tapestry of Imago, please know that you are missed. There is a part of our art that only you can provide. Your community, your support net, your unique contribution is necessary.
Diane Lehn is a former Minnesotan, North Dakotan, Kentuckian, Ohioan, Pennsylvanian who says uffda too much, but it’s the more socially approved word choice. She is married to Mark and they live with two tornados and are eternally grateful for the brave people in Genesis and Surround.