Sunday, January 3, 2016

Rescuing My Whimsical Quilt

My church friend called on New Year's Day and asked me to go to Walgreen's to help choose a birthday gift for her granddaughter and to have lunch afterward at Waffle House.  A simple errand.  A pleasant interlude in the day.  We both enjoyed it, and we talked about the year just passed and the new year coming.  

For my friend, 2015 was a year of frustration and change; for me, 2015 was the Year of Humiliation.  

From beginning to end last year, I was judged, shamed, and humiliated by any number of people for any number of small reasons.  It was painful.  When there are a series of events like that, I believe that they are meant to get our attention, to teach us something we need to know to help us move forward.  I hope that I am entering 2016 a better person because of the lessons of 2015.

That has been on my mind, perhaps even in sleep, because I awoke this morning thinking about the quilt for which I was so badly shamed by the quilt guilders.  I had bundled it away into a corner of the study closet and forgotten it, maybe tried to forget it.  But that quilt doesn't want to be forgotten.  It has taught me a lot about myself, about my talents and the lack thereof, about what I value, about what gives me joy.  

Years ago, I found a little pile of fabric samples at a flea market, and I was charmed by them.  They were from the 1950's, for decorating little boys's bedrooms.  The prints were of cowboys and Indians with Southwestern motifs; the prints were of surfers and the Hawaiian Islands; and there was a comical print of little boys stealing watermelon and an angry farmer peppering their bottoms with shotgun pellets.  The colors were simple and mostly primary--red, blue, yellow, green.  There was no doubt; these fabric scraps were meant to become a quilt.

I treasured the fabric away and thought carefully for a very long time about how best to cut it so that there would be as little waste as possible.  That meant that the quilt pattern would have to be simple, so I chose an ordinary 9-patch called (by the innocent but no-longer-polite name) Puss in the Corner.  There wasn't quite enough fabric, so I had to "piece pieces" to make a couple of the blocks.  I was still short 4 blocks when I found a piece of cowboy print shirting fabric from the same era--it was a pale brown permanent press, dreadful stuff to push a needle through, but it was a go-with that would work.

There was so much joy in doing this simple thing.  I loved the amusing old-fashioned prints.  I loved the cheerful colors.  I loved hand-piecing the blocks.  

It shocked me deeply that other people could be so cruel about every aspect of something that I found so hopeful and happy.  It was their enjoyment of being cruel that was the most distressing.

That quilt is everything that appeals to me--it is simple but with underlying complexity, it is colorful without being too bold, and it has a warmth that is both real and imaginary because it has stories behind it.  What we create should teach us more about what we are, and it should be a reminder of the Creator himself.  Maybe others don't understand what is in our hearts but God does.  He wants to encourage us in the good things that he created us to become.  I want what God has prepared for me; maybe I needed to be reminded of that.  

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself 
yet to have taken hold of it. 
But one thing I do: 
Forgetting what is behind 
and straining toward what is ahead, 
I press on toward the goal 
to win the prize 
for which God has called me heavenward 
in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

I will continue working on my simple, colorful, joyful quilt--there's just the quilting and the binding to do now.  And I will keep my focus where it belongs:  on the one who created us all.

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