The Quilt

This peacefulness…..this gratitude…..when did it overtake me?  Perhaps when we received an unexpected FaceTime after our five year old grandson said to his mother “Aren’t you going to call Nana and Papa?”  

              Perhaps as I watched the blazing crimson sunset filter through a latticework of trees?  Or as we cued up a movie and broke out the popcorn? 

              Or maybe it was when I searched out an unfinished quilt I had tucked away in the closet and renewed my efforts to complete it?

              Maybe it was all of these combined.  I know these events followed one another over the course of the evening.  However, the quilt has a story that likely makes it the centerpiece of this contentment. 

              When my mother was in her 70s, she took up quilting.  She had intended when she retired to take up gardening.  But, sadly, she developed some kind of allergy that made it impossible for her to work in plants.  She made some beautiful quilts and I am blessed to have some of her efforts.  But she started one quilt top that for some reason didn’t suit her.  I’m not sure why.  When I look at the turquoise and rose colors they remind me so of her.  Nothing about it seemed lacking to me.  But she stopped working on it, stitched an edging around it and gave it to me, saying maybe I could use it as a tablecloth. 

For a long time after she died I pondered the possibilities for that “tablecloth.”  I am neither a great seamstress nor a quilter, although I used to sew a lot and enjoyed making a pattern for “magic quilts,” which fold up into a pocket on the quilt to make a pillow.  But I inquired of my friend and expert quilter Mary what she thought I might do.  She helped me to choose a backing and to begin a way to quilt it.  I have worked on it periodically.   Frequently I have forgotten about it altogether.  But I follow Mary’s quilting blog and something in the reading of her last post triggered my memory of that neglected project.  Having retrieved it from its closet “hideaway,” I renewed my quilting activity while we watched the movie.    

Threading the needle, pulling it through the fabric, fabric that my mother’s hands had touched,  soothed me to the core, peace and gratitude in every stitch.  I could imagine her selecting that fabric, cutting it, piecing it together.  I could even see her examining her work and finding it unsatisfactory. (Like mother, like daughter.  I recognize the pattern).  The sewing of this quilt reminds me of how much of her I carry within me….and how very much I am sustained by that embodiment.

And so I invite you to seek those things that soothe you, bring you comfort, connect you to a sense of serenity and gratefulness.  As we carry on through Covid 19, these will be our sustenance. 

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

                                                             Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  😊 My quilter friend Mary’s website: https://zippyquilts.blog And photos as an added bonus! ♥ My mother and her “disappointing” quilt♥ 

Remembrances

This week has been filled with remembrances.

 Sorting through years of accumulated photos, I came across so many of folks I dearly loved, now gone.

 Editing my husband’s memoir of Vietnam as he works through writing chapter after chapter, I share his sense of loss— so many lives lost, so many lives irreparably damaged. 

Listening to the reports of covid 19 deaths, and the vignettes of some of those who have died and the families and friends they left behind, I find myself with a grief that feels universal. 

How fitting that this has also been the week our country honored Memorial Day and I turned another year older.  Should come as no surprise that thoughts of grief and loss, aging and death, have hovered around me like so many invisible companions. 

The scriptures often speak of life as fleeting.  James 4:14 reads:”…..yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

But we also know that such awareness of our mortality, when we pay attention and honor it, can enrich our lives in the present.  A friend spoke this week of a near death experience that caused him to evaluate his life, rethink his priorities and make needed revisions.  While certainly not the case for everyone, I have noticed on Face Book how many people during this time of covid 19 shutdown, have spoken of enjoying richer time with their children, appreciating a slower pace, experiencing a reluctance to resume what had previously seemed a quite normal and acceptable routine.

Unquestionably in this time there is loss and grief, both personal and worldwide.    But what an opportunity we are being presented to reassess, to regroup. We are challenged to be creative, resourceful; to appreciate our lives and the people in them; to open our eyes and spirits to recognize the gifts in this moment. 

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

            Shalom, Kate

P.S. Hope’s Café Bonus:  If you are craving a sweet, you might try Strawberry-Chocolate Frozen Yogurt Bark.  Mix 3 c. whole milk plain Greek yogurt; ¼ c. pure maple syrup or honey; 1 t. vanilla extract; 1 ½ c. sliced strawberries; ¼ c. mini chocolate chips.  Line a 10×15 baking sheet with parchment.  Spread mixture and top with sliced strawberries and chocolate chips.  Freeze a minimum of 3 hours. When solidly frozen, remove and break or cut into pieces.