Years ago, when my father was still a boy, the second of twelve of my grandparent’s children, my Grandmother started a collection of quilts. She disliked idleness. Out of necessity, she had developed diligence, which became the seams of her character.
My father once told me she had made a quilt for each of her children. Not an Amish style quilt one would pay large amounts to own. These were quilts for service.
Coverings for shivering children, Christmas gifts made for thrift, rather than poverty, an investment of ‘free time’ that a mother of twelve rarely indulged in. They were sewing lessons, and the recycling of the outgrown and overly worn.
The patchwork patterns had no particular story or theme. You won’t find Log Cabins, Wedding Rings, or Flying Geese with creative cuts and angles. Just patches of faded fabrics from tattered dresses and stained aprons. Pillow ticking, the striped material left over from homemade feather pillows. Worn out overalls, and frayed flannel shirts, baby clothes handed down too many times, all reclaimed for service.
Stitched together, not with stitches one would find in the ‘Encyclopedia of the Fine Art of Hand Sewing’. Just the practical, purposeful stitches that bind, sewn with an economy required for deadlines.
Fluffy white filling never lined these works; instead, overused blankets and recycled flour sacks tied in place with the colorful knots of embroidery thread.
These quilts won’t bring highs price at estate auctions. They are simple farmhouse quilts. Usually too worn to hang on walls or be displayed but they did mark the domain of a crowded kingdom.
Cozy dream catchers, covering the sleeping in winter and grass in the summer; perfect for reading on top of and for crying under. Colorful patches of heaven, which became an altar for children’s prayers. Hanging on clotheslines, they were tents, the hint of wood smoke from the kitchen cook stove still clinging to them.
By the time these twelve heirs reached adulthood, their quilts were tattered, stained, frayed and moth eaten…but cherished. These were not museum pieces, nor high priced, coveted antiques. They were necessary and practical, each one stitched with love.
“God make my life a quilt.”
Not one that is coveted or costly…displayed without purpose. The object of admiration, corded off with a sign ‘Do Not Touch’.
“Lord, teach me the lessons of my Grandmother’s quilts.”
May I keep the sleeping warm, insulated from the cold slights of this world? Could I be a magic carpet ride for the imaginations of children? Allow me to comfort the hurting and be a hiding place for the seeker, a shelter for the sojourner. Teach me to open my arms and swallow the prodigal who finally runs home. Allow me to wrap them safe, just as You have wrapped me.
“Let me be useful and purposeful.”
When I am stained and soiled, torn and tattered. When my stuffing isn’t fluffy and my colors faded let those around me count me salvageable. If I have worth, let it be because of the value I placed on others.
I don’t know if any of those original quilts have survived the years, but something more precious outlives time and moths, the lessons of a mother’s wisdom.
The possessions of the diligent are of great value...Proverbs 12:27
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