I have a sister-in-law and know of several other people who quilt. It is truly a labor of love where hundreds of hours and thousands, if not tens of thousands, of seemingly insignificant stitches are made over a course of months or even years. Generally, a wide variety of material is carefully selected and cut into precise squares. Arranged randomly or in a prescribed pattern, each one becomes joined to another so that they no longer are completely independent, but rather an integral part of something greater. Life is like this.

When we look at a quilt, we first notice that it is unique, unlike anything we have ever seen before. And whether we are drawn to its particular design or color, we cannot help but admire and appreciate the commitment and work of the quilter.

Quilts come in various sizes. Some quilts are merely meant to be draped over one’s lap. Others are sized to be wrapped around an individual. I have seen quilts large enough to cover a king size bed.

When quilting, the quilter must begin by selecting certain fabrics. Colors and fabric designs are selected. Dark blues, blacks, deep maroons and grays might be present. Depending on the depth of these shades and if a large number is chosen, the final product may seem gloomy or dim.

When the maker of the quilt selects other colors and patterns with bright yellows, sky blues or spring greens, or if swatches of material are printed with joyful images such as crescent moons, stars, smiley faces or teddy bears to site a few, the final product invokes peaceful or corresponding feelings of joy.

I have been at craft shows and personally experienced as well as watched and listened to others looking at quilts. “O look at that one,” one might say, “it is so colorful and bright. It will really make Megan happy.” Or, “That one is certainly beautiful, but seems awfully dark. I’m afraid that would make Uncle Pete even more withdrawn.” It is apparent to me that the material choices made by the quilter in both texture, color, printed pattern and even color of thread holding the pieces together are critical to the final product.

Some quilts seem to have a special place in the hearts of others. These become extraordinary because the quilter selects material holding sentimental feelings. “These swatches are from Grandma’s favorite dress. Remember the shirt Dad wore constantly? These are from that. Mom always loved that red robe, so here are some pieces from that.” When these quilts are finished and presented, they hold memories of love experienced over lifetimes. Extraordinary to say the least!

Other quilts are fashioned using discarded fabric from random material or left-over scraps from other projects. There is always a certain sense of beauty and value, no matter how the cloth is selected. Some just seem to be more significant than others.

We all are quilters. We set out at an early age selecting material that will ultimately comprise our final product. The quilt each of us fashions is made up of choices, carefully or randomly selected, and pieced together each day we live.

When we choose hurtful acts, dishonest behavior, when we lie or cheat, actively refuse to forgive, abandon the poor by focusing our resources solely on our own desires, make sarcastic comments that degrade or ridicule or a myriad of other poor choices, we cut and fashion swatches of dark blues, blacks, deep maroons and grays. However, our choices may be acts of kindness, service, compassion, gratitude, generosity, unconditional forgiveness or any number of other acts where the wellbeing of others is considered first. These become swatches of bright yellows, patterns of happy faces, teddy bears, shining stars, brilliant reds and sky blues.

What colors we choose is a daily task. How we connect our swatches to those of others is how our relationships are defined. Do we choose strong thread whose color compliments and creates lasting bonds, or are our relationships less meaningful and weak?

I wonder what kind of quilt I am crafting? I know that everyone’s quilt will have some dark swatches where poor choices and selfishness, hurtful behavior and other poor alternatives are chosen. My quilt certainly has some of those. I hope that these do not engulf the overall life that I am trying to lead. I want others to look at my quilt and have it be a source of joy or gratitude.

I think that when we ultimately arrive in our caskets, others look upon us and see, not so much the body, but the quilt covering it.

Looking Inward

What kind of thread am I using in crafting my quilt? Am I using strong thread so that my relationships are strong, meaningful and lasting, or do I choose frayed or thin thread creating superficial and temporary ones?

By my choices, what color material will I select to be today’s swatch in my life’s quilt?

While I cannot “undo” a previously chosen dark square, I will try today to offset it by offering unconditional forgiveness, extending gratitude or serving the needs of another from a deep sense of love and respect.