Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church Arcade, NY
This weekend we have a quilt show at my church. We’ve hosted it every two years since the early ’90s. I’ve served at Hope through four quilt shows and every time I’ve been more impressed than the last. It’s easy to admire the quilts on display, knowing how much effort and creativity went into making them. And after I decided to make a quilt myself, my respect for the process only grew. You see, I learned some valuable lessons.
So today, I’d like to share with you a few things that the quilting ladies at Hope shared with me. Four basic principles.
1. The first thing to note is that long before you do any sewing at all, you have to make a pile of scraps. The pile of scraps should be big enough that making any sense of it seems unfathomable. You cut, and cut, and cut fabric into one piece after another, until you have a heaping pile of chaos.
2. Now it’s time to do something with that jumbled pile of fabric. In the quilter’s hands, when you put those pieces together correctly—face to face, as they say in quilting terms—you can begin to see order.
3. But even here that order depends on how you look at things. You might have the same scraps as someone else, but depending on how you arrange the pieces, two quilts can look entirely different. It’s all about your personal perspective.
4. Finally, when the top is done, it still needs a border and a back. The border is the portion on the outside that surrounds the quilt. The backing helps to finish it off and hold all of it together.
I believe everyone can learn something from these steps, whether you quilt or not. Here are some simple truths that I gleaned from the process.
1. Every quilt, no matter how big or small, started as something else. And what it started as was a pile of pieces. That’s what makes it beautiful, though. It’s not simply beautiful fabric that makes a quilt: it’s beautiful fabrics and the patterns in which they’re put together. Creation is the same way. What makes us beautiful as the people of God isn’t our uniformity, it’s our diversity bound together with precision and perfection in the hands of the quilter of life.
2. The way we are initially put together is face to face. Quilters, please educate a friend if I just lost them. Quilting is the stitching you can see in the quilt, but the pieces are held together by seams underneath, created only by placing the fabrics face to face. Seems (I almost said seams… get it?) to me we could use a little less pushing each other away and a little more face to face time these days…
3. …Because we all see things differently, but a lot of that has to do with where we are sitting and the pieces we are looking at. It’s perspective. In the end, if we could put our noggins together I think we’d all agree that we want a lot of the same things for our families and communities.
4. Finally, quilting has taught me that without the base and the binding to hold everything together, even the most beautiful top looks rattled and unfinished. And no matter how hard we try, the same is true for us. We’re incomplete. But God is the strength in our weakness, and makes us whole.
Even then there are still imperfections, God works with those too. After all, he’s the original crafter. And so quilts continue to teach me about community and life. It’s the individual pieces that make quilts so beautiful, and it’s no one’s job to be any piece other than the one they were created to be. Beauty only happens when we stand face to face and remember to acknowledge our bonds. One quilt with 12 of the same blocks can look many different ways depending on your perspective and the way you decide to arrange the pieces. And, of course, no quilt is complete without a base and a bind.
Thank God, God binds us all together.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.