life fabric

The Fabric of Life

“Consider how the lilies grow…” Luke 12:27

A neighbor down the road made quilts; beautiful quilts in a variety of colors and patterns.  I was intrigued.  Soon she was patiently showing me how to piece together my very first quilt in hues of rust, beige and brown.  I was immediately smitten and I have been turning out quilts for over twenty-five years now.  Sometimes you just know that you were meant to do something and this is one of those things for me.

An older lady once told me to “make memories” while life was still busy, our children growing and our health in the robust category.  So, we did.  As a family we learned and did much together:  raising livestock and pets, planting trees and vegetables, exploring the forests, building birdhouses and barns, visiting relatives, going on trips and vacations, and always, always planning for the future.

So, when did the future become the past?  I don’t really know but somehow it slipped by me.   The kids finished college, married and moved on.  Many of our relatives, friends and neighbors have either relocated or passed away.  And, while our lives are still busy with daily chores and human interaction, the purposeful thrust of it all has diminished somewhat.

Each quilt is a metaphor for choices made.  Should this quilt be a nine-patch, a courthouse steps or an Irish chain? Should I use cotton, muslin or flannel?  Will I make this one in greens and yellows, reds and whites, or a mixture of many prints and colors from my stash of leftovers?    Some quilts turn out to be stunning in their combinations and others miss the mark somehow and end up in the mediocre category.  And, then, there are a disappointing few that have caused me to halt construction midway, take them completely apart, and reuse the material for something else.

Quilts hold memories.  Before starting a new one, I first go through the extra material I have put aside from others I have made through the years.  There are the blues from my son’s quilt that I made when he was eight years old to match the baseball wallpaper in his room. Then, there’s the green plaid for the quilt I made for my daughter when she was a teenager and tired of the little-girl pinks. The aqua and peach cottons went into a graduation quilt for a niece and the burgundy and cream material made up a fiftieth wedding anniversary quilt for my in-laws.  Each piece of material brings back the memory of a person or an event.

Although I have given away most of the quilts, I still have quite a collection.  Some are displayed on racks and not to be touched.  Others, like the green log cabin in our guest room, are so old and faded from much use and many washings that they really should be replaced – but it’s hard to let go.

I recently finished a purple and green lovers’ knot quilt to give to a good friend.  This one turned out well and is quite lovely, but it, too, will fade with time and use.  For now, however, it is good, and I am learning to appreciate the now, not always living in the past nor always planning for the future.  As time moves on I realize more that we should give thanks daily for every good gift we have from Yahweh – for our family, our friends, our talents, our hopes and each moment of life that He has given us.

by: Debbie Reed

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Posted in Come to the Garden.
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