A Blanket of Love… by John Paul Carter
Quilts are treasures! Practically, they provide warmth on cold nights and much more. As the old saying goes, "Those who sleep under a quilt, sleep under a blanket of love."
The art of "piecing" or quilting goes back to a time when nothing was wasted. Material from worn out or outgrown clothes, cloth scraps, and even feed sacks were cut into patterns, sewed together, stuffed with cotton batting, placed on wooden frames, and hand stitched into quilts.
Women gathered to quilt and the result was not only practical but also artistic and social. The designs and needlework were as individual as the quilters. By wintertime, the wedding, or the birth, the work was done. Always the common thread was love answering need with what was available.
On the bed in our guest room is a beautiful blue quilt that our neighbor Callie pieced for us before she died. And in our cedar lined trunk is the quilt that the women of my first pastorate pieced for us before we left for Scotland. Its squares bear the names of all the members of Selfs Baptist Church. The building has vanished, but the memory of the people and their love is preserved in that quilt.
Even in our fast paced, throwaway society, quilting continues to be a special art for expressing love. The display by local quilters at the Peach Festival is always impressive. And who could forget the sight of the capitol esplanade in Washington covered with quilts memorializing AIDS victims. After the tragic murder of her daughter, my friend Patty took pieces of Missy’s childhood clothing and pieced a quilt in her memory. Quilting is a beautiful way of dealing with the past in the present - grieving our losses and celebrating our joys.
Whether we sew or not, Mary White reminds us in her poem “The Quilters” that we are all piecing the tapestry of our lives:
Sometimes you don't have no control over the way things go.
Hail ruins the crops or fire burns you out.
And then you're just given so much to work with in a life
And you have to do the best you can with what you got.
That's what piecing is.
The materials is passed on to you
Or is all you can afford to buy,
But the way you put them together is your business.
You can put them in any order you like.
Lord, help us to turn the many scraps of our lives into blankets of love. Amen.