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It’s Just a Quilt…until You Need a Blanket

For last week’s Welcome Home event, we decorated the halls of Eden Church with handmade quilts of different sizes and varieties.  A couple of times now, I’ve caught a visitor or a tenant standing in front of a quilt taking a closer look at the image or the color or the careful stitching.  I’ll ask, “Do you like that?” And the answer is always, “Yes, it’s amazing.”

As one of the quilters, it’s gratifying when anyone enjoys looking at our quilts.  I always wish, however, I could take the time to explain that quilts are also a good way to look at life.  For example, even the simplest patchwork with alternating light and dark squares reminds us that life itself is a mix of good and bad days or bright and dark years.  

When we stitch our days or years together, our happiest moments, like the arrival of a child or the meeting of a lover, give us that pop of red or yellow that we need to survive the gray or black occasions that each of us must endure, like the death of a parent or the loss of one’s health and vigor.  A quilt is a reminder that life is not what is happening right now – life is the sum of all our moments, good and bad. A quilt is a reminder that we are the quilters of our life and that hard work must be balanced, at least periodically, with joy and happiness.

As a pastor, I also like to explain that quilts are one of the populist art forms born of necessity.  In every culture, when people needed blankets to be warm at night, they made them from whatever they had on hand.  The last stop for hand-me-down dresses and jeans was usually the rag bag from which quilters would piece the family’s next quilt.  In good times, quilts became works of art, lovingly-made gifts to be bestowed on the newlyweds and new parents – but in bad times, when money is tight, quilts are the blankets we need to stave off winter’s chill.

Whenever we talk about climate change and its causes, I am reminded that as old-fashioned as they seem, the utilitarian quilt, made of fabric scraps and worn out items, might offer us a partial solution to the problem of fashion waste.    Rather than throw away an average of 70 pounds of clothing per person annually or rather than ordering that new comforter made and transported from China, wouldn’t it be better to recycle our clothing into quilts and blankets?

As summer turns to autumn, as our hot days fade into chilly mornings and cold nights, I wish you the art of quilt on your wall, the philosophy of the quilt in your heart, and the comfort of a quilt on your bed.  Amen!

–Pastor Pepper