by Sue Fulmore
I sit with piles of scraps, gathered from many places, some beautiful and some that would qualify as the last-to-be-chosen variety. Two at a time they are joined together to make a pair; this pair is joined to other pairs and so on. Slowly a pattern emerges. The attractive and the mundane are all joined together to create a beautiful work of art. Even the undesirable pieces have added depth and color that would be missed had they not been included. Each part is necessary to make the project complete.
The process is slow and goes against my natural inclination. I am impatient by nature, wanting things to happen quickly, to get to the end of the road, to arrive at the destination. I forget that joy is often found in the journey and in the development of new skills. Quilting teaches me to be patient, to do the work even when I don’t see the results. It teaches me faith. It echoes the truth that “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1). Many hours are required to cut, sew, trim, press and sew some more. I am forced to slow down. I cannot skip a step or rush the process. If I am patient and follow the rules, I will see the design emerge, the beauty revealed and will have a project to be proud of. This creative process has much to teach me.
Since working on my own designs, quilting has become a prayer and a wrestling with an inner struggle. Issues weighing heavily on my heart are worked out in fabric and thread when they cannot be worked out in the mind. How do I come to grips with the injustices in this world? When there is so much pain, what can I do? I can make a quilt. I can express my desire for justice, peace, hope and joy through my creativity.
Creating pictorial quilts becomes my medium to express my inner angst and longings. In the process of sewing the many dark pieces together, prayers are offered up for those living in dark places where it is difficult to see the light of God. A sun rising and a bird in flight reflect prayers for hope, renewal and freedom. While waiting years for a family to arrive safely from their war-torn country, brick by brick a home is built of fabric. Each stone representing a petition offered up for safe passage and provision. A nest full of eggs is added to the rubble filled street I have created, symbolizing prayers for new life and hope coming out of this place of destruction.
As children of God we are called to be His image-bearers to the world. Part of this calling is to be co-creators with God, to be involved in His continual work on earth to make all things new, to repair, redeem and restore. As we accept and embrace our identity in Christ and His call on our lives, our response must be one of overflowing gratitude and expression through our own particular creative bent. Are you a technological wizard? Create content to the glory of God. Are you a songwriter? Then write words and melodies that express what it means to be human. Are you a fashion designer? Then reflect the beauty and imagination of the creator of the universe. In embracing and using our creativity we are doing God’s work in the world.
According to Biblical tradition, an altar is a place where sacrifices are made and gifts are offered up in worship. My altar is my sewing machine where the sacraments of fabric and thread become symbols of my worship. What some might consider a hobby is for me so much more. Coming to my altar I offer my creative abilities, prayers, longings and my very self as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.