Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:2 (NIV)
In a dresser drawer, I rediscovered an old thimble. Once it had a top, now it is worn through from years and years of use. This little thimble graced the finger of my maternal grandmother. Though a tiny woman, she carried herself with great dignity and modeled grace within and without. I cannot think of Grandma without remembering needlework. Except when she was reading or cooking, Grandma was sewing. Quilts, mending, toys, clothing, baby blankets. If it was made of cloth, she could make it. In one of my favorite pictures of her she is stuffing a toy dog. She made it for me and it became my constant companion for many years. As a child, I had asthma and severe allergies. I could not have furry stuffed animals like other little girls. I asked Santa Claus for a white long haired stuffed poodle one year. Santa Claus always brought what we asked for so that year, the poodle was under the tree. Not long afterwards, I had an asthma attack and the poodle disappeared from my room. I never saw it again. My grandmother knew how its loss upset me and so, she made a toy dog from fabric. With no fur to itch my nose and foam stuffing instead of fiber, I had a new doggy friend to keep me company. She sewed most of my sister’s and my clothes as well. Pink for my sister who had brown eyes; blue for me with blue eyes. One year, I told her I was tired of blue so she made me a Nehru jacket of psychedelic colors. A quilt she made hangs in my house today. But, the most important thing I remember her sewing were not for me. They were layettes for “the welfare babies” in our community. Over time, she provided hundreds and hundreds of blanket sets, gowns and hats. These were works of art, not simple designs. Made of the softest flannel she could find, fancy embroidery and fine stitches decorated each one. Grandma always said that she wanted the babies to have some beauty early in their life. Each was packaged and tied with a ribbon and delivered to our local health department for distribution. Grandma never met the women and babies who benefited from her generosity, but she continued to sew layettes until she could not longer see to do the intricate needlework. Remembering my grandmother’s kindness and love of beauty and her desire to better the lives of all those around her made me think how each of us has a gift to use to better the lives of others. Some might prefer to be a soloist or preacher attracting great crowds with their talents. Others might prefer to be a healer making miracles happen. These verses talk about gifts, but say that they are nothing without love. My grandmother taught me that one woman, in the quiet of her home, can do just as much if not more simply because she loved.