My wife is an avid quilter. Our home is filled with piles of beautiful fabric, and two sewing machines ,including a long-arm machine. We have a work table set up in our dining room with lots of measuring rulers, cutting tools and lot of books devoted to quilting patterns and designs. When we go to quilting shops to buy fabric, I am usually carrying all of the bags of the cut fabric out to the car.
Right now, my wife has started a new project. The image for this forthcoming quilt is of a log cabin with a red door surrounded by fields of bluebonnets. The fabric features a lot of bright green and blue strips sown together that are creating a lovely pastoral scene.
Quilting can be a meditative activity, but it can also provoke anxiety and frustration in attempting to create the correct project. You can feel very upset if you have to cancel your project due to some incorrect sewing lines or making a mistake regarding cutting and measuring material.
Life can sometimes look like a patchwork quilt. There are the sections that are devoted to work, livelihood, raising a family, living in a family as members get older, pursuing hobbies or interests, seeking and developing relationships and developing perhaps a spiritual life.
Like sections of a quilt, some portions of our life will look brighter and more vibrant while other aspects of our life might reveal more of a steady understated embroidery.
Sometimes, people will feel like they are stuck in their lives. I have talked to folks who feel like they are in a rut with their jobs, or with their relationships. I have known others who are feeling sad about lost opportunities, lost inheritances, slights or abrupt severing of connection to parents or siblings. I have known people who felt depressed and who have carried emotional pain within their lives for a long time.
For many of these people, their lives have revealed a rich tapestry. What is particularly remarkable is that a person who is facing a challenge, i.e. like a chronic illness, will then reveal that they actively volunteer to help others, i.e. maybe calling others who are in need, or delivering Meals on Wheels to those who are shut-in.
Again, the texture of their patchwork quilt continues to change and evolve. People can find new ways to expand their talents and interests in a way that not only help others but also contributes to experiencing a more meaningful life.
I know several people who are currently in the process of retiring from their jobs. Many of these people have been working thirty years or more. I wonder what their lives will be like in the future?
I know that some of these people will pursue leisure, play golf, maybe travel, spend needed time with family. All of these activities are good and are life-giving.
But what else might be available?
As Peggy Lee once observed:
“Is that all there is ? “
The late Katherine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, successfully ran a powerful company that produced and still produces great journalism. She and her editor, Ben Bradlee, had the courage to face the harassment and pressure of the Nixon Administration in getting The Pentagon papers published in the Washington Post.
Yet, in her later years, Katherine Graham remarked that one of her greatest achievements was supporting a half-way house in Southeast for single women of color who had children in Southeast Washington, D.C.
She was able to see that her life was composed of many different patches and squares and swirls of color, many threads that contributed to a beautiful tapestry of her life.
Our lives, too, can reveal a beautiful patchwork design if we continue to seek out how to add additional pieces, additional people and experiences that will produce a colorful story.
Now, the major challenge at my house: What do we do with all of this fabric?
May it be so.