on Quilts

“You have to choose your combinations carefully. The right choices will enhance your quilt. The wrong choices will dull the colors and hide their original beauty. There are no rules you can follow. You have to go by instinct and you have to be brave.” Whitney Otto (b. 1955), author of How to Make an American Quilt

I have decided to learn a new skill; I am now learning how to quilt.  Last year, my sister was having her first baby and I wanted to do something special for her baby shower, so I decided to make a quilt. I assumed that it would be easy, and less expensive as any bought gift, so I asked my dear friend Esther to teach me how to make one. Little did I know.

Esther helped me pick a pattern I liked and then we went shopping for fabric. It was then I discovered that this would definitely not be something cheaper than store bought. Nor would it be easy. I eventually figured out how important colors were, as well cuts, even seams and pressing. I had no idea how much work, or how great attention to detail would be required in order to fit each piece together properly. Not only did the cuts have to be perfect, but the seams to be just so, or the final result would be uneven. To be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed, but I plugged along, trying not to get frustrated with the mistakes I made, or the late nights I spent stitching or re-stitching uneven seams.  I really had no experience in sewing either, so my learning curve was a bit higher than most, but it in the end, it was all worth it. Thanks to much help from my friend, and the magic of pressing, the final quilt was lovely, and my sister loved it.

It was then I got to thinking, our country is kind of like my first quilt; a lovely pattern of seemingly miss-matched pieces, in various colors and even a few uneven seams here and there.  Yet, when you stand back and look at it, you find out how each individual piece that adds to the very beauty of the quilt, with their unique color, shape, and pattern. Each one is lovely in its own unique way, and without them, the quilt would not be the same.  Despite its novice imperfections, our county’s quilt is still very much loved.

Yet, there now seems to be people in government who are set on changing this country’s lovely quilt, to remake and transform it into their own pattern of perfection. Unfortunately, the only way to remake a quilt is to completely unravel and disassemble it. The problem with that is once you start taking apart a quilt, you can often lose pieces in the process.  Either they are damaged beyond repair, or they just don’t fit into the new design anymore. So what then? What happens to those individual pieces that ended up being damaged or tossed aside? Perhaps a better question to ask is why anyone would do this at all, when the existing quilt was already created with so much care and at such great cost?

I guess only a quilter could understand the ramifications of what our leaders are doing. I hope to be considered one someday – I have already begun my second quilt. This time I am not under the same time constraint as before, so I have more time to absorb and understand, and my skill is improving with each added piece. It is still amazing to me how the variety of individual fabrics can add richness to a block, and how a seemingly insignificant square can play an important part in the overall design.  I understand now that quilting is best not rushed – it takes care and patience, and even a little faith. From the choosing of the fabrics, to the cutting of the squares, to the sewing of each stitch, I am learning how important each individual step is to the final beauty of the finished work. Now, whenever I look at quilts, I view them differently. No longer do I see just the uniqueness of the pattern or the fabrics, but the time, effort and love of the creator who made it into the very thing of value that it has now become.

A great deal of love, care  and sacrifice went into the beautiful quilt that is our nation. I can see it; why can’t those in Washington?

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