When I was a little girl I used to go with my grandmother to the Muskegon City Rescue Mission, where she worked. She was apart of the women’s auxiliary and actively involved in a Quilting Bee. If you aren’t familiar with a Quilting Bee, it’s quite a lovely opportunity for folks to gather (traditionally women) and share in community and a stitch. I used to love going with her because I would get all kinds of sweet affirmation from about 20 other grandmas. Pinches on the cheeks, how’s your mother? What are you learning at school? Sing a song for us, etc…
They would sit in a rectangle, in a large room with tile flooring and florescent lights. They would spread out the quilt and clamp it over a frame. Once the ladies begin it was a whirlwind of conversation and sewing. They made ‘crazy quilts,’ which are by far my favorite kind of quilt. They would gather up all the cotton sheets and left over material and cut it into different shapes and sizes. Most of the quilts made were going to the homeless and the sooner they could get them out the sooner others would have something to keep them warm at night.
To my eyes, these quilts were the most beautiful things I had every seen; with a few pieces of each fabric here and a few pieces there, they would lay out a pattern of odd and unique fabric and begin to weave them together. What might seem random, in the end, was exactly how it was meant to be. I love it when things are beautiful and purposeful and crazy quilts are just that.
My favorite memory of that time, was being able to crawl underneath the frame and view the makings from the wrong side up. Following stitches that stretched from one side to another and around, back again and so on, my eyes danced with delight. It was a beautiful mess and a most pleasant feeling would come over me because I knew that just on the other side of the mess was a perfectly crafted quilt, where everything made sense (even if it’s seemed random.)
On occasion, the ladies would break out in song, singing “How Great Thou Art,” a lovely old hymn about God as the creator. Written in 1886 by Carl Bobert it says, “Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the world Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder. Thy power throughout the universe displayed.” I would lay facing up at the bottom side of that quilt, feeling the cold tiles under me, listening to the voices of angels.
I believe this is a deep-rooted soul memory. In a world that keeps on trying to drag me down, the belief that we are all connected and that there is purpose to our connection gives me hope and encourages me to be open, to seek reconciliation and practice peace.
From on of my favorite passages in scripture, I Cor. 12
So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.