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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quilting Closure

Today, Julia and I finished her quilt. It has become a family tradition to make each child a quilt as they leave home. For Luke and Caleb, I scrambled to assemble quilts in the summers before they started boarding school at RVA. Since we're ALL leaving home this year . . I had hoped to make Julia and Jack each one, but Jack's will have to wait. He's only 12, after all, and we do have some more life to live before he separates from us I hope.
Julia was intimately involved in her quilt's creation from start to finish, choosing, ironing, holding, pinning, advising. We decided on this triangular pattern because it reminded us of the Rwenzoris, our home. Each peak is comprised of a fabric with a story. Miss Bethany's superwoman T-shirt she bequeathed to Julia, the sling I made her when she broke her arm, costumes from her Phantom Tollbooth Birthday, a dress she had that matched her doll's, our couches and curtains, pillows we used in the truck when traveling, left-overs from her favorite two skirts made locally, her characteristic bandana, school uniforms and soccer shirts, and even the matching outfits our team wore just this month for our dance-skit at the WHM retreat (Lisa Wood has it on video, pretty impressive). These are set against a subtle old-fashioned background: a rose-patterned cotton that has its own story. When we first came to Uganda in 1993, one of my dear friend and supporters, Judy Schenk, who rode on the rescue squad with me when I was in college and sensed the need for beauty in any life, donated this fabric from which I made our first set of curtains in our house. So we have the colorful pattern of our Rwenzori life set on the background of loving supporters.
The narrow pink border is my love, surrounding Julia's life. It was cut from our "Happy Pants", matching mother-daughter capris we inherited as hand-me-downs from my sister and niece. They were so wild and bright we felt happy just putting them on, and since they were culturally inappropriate to wear out of the house we often celebrated "family nights" at home in them.
And the wide outermost border represents the ocean of God's love, in which we live. It is a hand-dyed fabric I bought from a women's self-help group on Bushara Island, Lake Bunyoni, and calls to mind depth, water, billows, movement, infinity.
After months of work slowly by slowly, it is spread on the bed beside me now, soon to be packed. And now that it's done, I see the parable of our life in the process. Snippets and fragments, bits and pieces from here and there. Cut. Sometimes painfully. Sometimes inexplicably. But in God's hands the pieces are rearranged. One color contrasts and sets off another. The random shapes fit together. The juxtaposition of American and Uganda creates something new. From a pile of scraps a thing of beauty and warmth emerges, useful and pleasing. What was once a dress or a curtain becomes a blanket, changed, both old and new, with a story to tell. A bit like us, I hope.
And at least 3 of 4 kids have a good physical reminder of the only home they've known. . . someone hold me to my promise to not forget Jack!


Melissa said...

It's gorgeous-- thanks for sharing the stories, and way to go to both of yall for finishing it!

Joanna said...

I do not know how you find the time to make the quilts, but I am so glad you do. The quilt you made me when I was pregnant with Sasha stays by the boys' beds every day and goes with us whenever we travel. A reminder of the pieces and parts that God tosses together in beauty and careful design to tell a chapter of my story. thank you.