I took my first quilting class last spring at a local fabric shop to learn the basics of quilting. Basics like learning to cut out and piece together squares with names like, “Log Cabin,” “Fence Rail,” etc. This winter I bravely decided to make a full-sized quilt on my own even though my knowledge of quilting is minimal. I watched “You Tube” videos when I got stuck. My first first full-size quilt is now completed. It is made out of “Woolie” flannel squares in beautiful, rich colors of reds, blues, greens, greys, browns, and golds. The “Woolies” are so soft they make you want to caress the quilt and cocoon under it. The pattern I chose has a large “Missouri Star,” that sets the quilt off with a dark blue star framed in a light gold background, surrounded by all of the soft and bold squares. In addition to the squares and large star are two “borders.” One is the same light gold that surrounds the star, and the other is a deep, dark, suede looking gold. The back of the quilt is dark red. In between the “quilt back” and the “quilt top” is a layer of “batting,” a soft, unseen, white fluffy material to add bulk and warmth. A dark olive green “binding” is the color I chose to finish off the edges of the quilt. The actual “quilting” is a design I chose at a quilt shop that is sewn over the entire quilt and holds all the layers together. The design I chose has a medium size swirl and star. This pattern repeats itself over the entire quilt. I feel satisfaction with my finished quilt. It was worth the work and the struggle. The struggle mostly being that as the quilt neared completion, it became bulky and difficult to maneuver on the machine top and under the needle. At times it felt like I was wrestling a large fabric python.
Some days feel like that as well. Like I am wrestling a large something that will not leave me in peace. Many mornings, upon awakening, as my brain transitions from unconscious to conscious, a voice enters my head that berates me and the choices I’ve made for my life. It whispers things like, “If you’d been smarter…tried harder…” “Surely God cannot tolerate such a useless, back-sliding human being.” It’s a harsh voice. I don’t hear it every morning, but I hear it often enough that I recognize the voice and the litany of accusations. The voice that berates, belittles, and nullifies my purpose, my worth, and even my very existence on this earth.
I think about quilting and compare it to learning to do life.
It comes down to choices and decisions. I want the choices and decisions I make for my life to be thoughtfully and beautifully patterned. I want my life to reflect my learning to quilt in the fact that I never give up. I want to know in my heart that the final product is worth the angst and the struggle. As the quilt neared completion, the bulk of it frustrated me as I could barely fit it on top of my working space to sew its final stitches. As I look over the next hill in my life and catch a glimpse of the elder years that lie ahead, I carry much bulk with me that I long to off-load. Not just the bulk of physical things, but the bulk of hard things I’ve endured and continue to carry or drag behind me. I long to carry a lighter load in the years ahead. Even though I’ve lived many decades, there are times I face the years ahead like I faced my first quilt; feeling somewhat clueless, yet eager and willing to learn.
I long to be a “Woolie” quilt to myself and others: Soft, warm, approachable, comforting, large enough to cover those who need covering, and held together well enough that I am a reliable covering for myself and others in both the easy times and the hard. I want those who come after me to find a legacy of comfort and stories in my squares, my borders, my pattern, my warm unseen layers, my backing, my carefully planned and chosen design.
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16
Though she didn’t talk until she was three, Barbara is a lover of words both spoken and written. A rather late bloomer in both learning to speak and in learning to trust her inner voice and in finally feeling comfortable enough to write down her stories, she feels blessed to be making the journey towards healing and wholeness. She’s looking forward to continuing her journey of transferring her thoughts into written form and sharing them with others. She’s thankful to be part of the Red Tent community.