I recently sold my mother’s house which necessitated clearing out the 96 years of accumulation of her life. Although my brothers had spent several days clearing out an enormous part of the items in her closets and garage storage, there was still a part left for me to do – the final finishing part. One of my brothers and I still had furniture there which had to be removed, and a dear friend went with me to help finish clearing out everything else. That is a very emotionally hard thing to do. You look around and see yourself and your mother in so many places. You remember when we did this, or talked about that, or belly laughed over something seriously silly. I thank God for all of those wonderful memories.
There were lots of knick-knacks placed here and there, her pots and pans were in the cabinet, the glasses etched with a “B” she and my dad had collected from the Kayo Gas Station 60+ years ago were just as she had left them. Her canned goods were in the cabinet; her dishtowels were folded and put away for the next person’s use. Containers of nails, screws, and bolts were stored in the utility room cabinets with gardening stuff, and anything else that might be conceived as junk. Cleaning supplies were under the sink, and the refrigerator was stocked with this ‘n that from former visits of family.
All-in-all, it wasn’t much, but it was enough to say someone had lived in this house, but, it was so much more – it was my mother’s home. There was that atrocious white spiral Christmas tree that Mama and Lauren had decorated one year in lieu of the live tree which occasionally joined us for the holidays or the green artificial one that I always put up if it was left to me. Window curtains…shower curtains, throw rugs, wall hangings and pictures were scattered here and about. Many things had already been chosen by family members as memorabilia, other things were given to people who had a greater need for them. A past life was shared with the living because that’s what life does; it goes on.
Among the many remaining items left for me to clear out, I found several quilts. Two were ones that were on her beds, they were store bought and pretty, but nothing of real sentimental consequence. One was a beautiful handmade creation that I had bought for her out at the Beersheba Springs Arts and Crafts Festival. It was heavy and very nice, never used, but put back in the closet for someone else to use some other day. My mother had several quilts and quilt tops through the years that either her mother or her great aunt had quilted, but those had been shared through time, treasured and lovingly used to hold our most precious belongings, our children. I saw one on a chair at my daughter’s house just the other day. It was very soft from use and rather tattered around the edges; it was probably in that very shape when she liberated it from my house! Anyway, a quilt says an awful lot about a life, don’t you think?
Each of our lives is symbolic of a quilt. If you consider each little piece of fabric which was cut specifically for your quilt, you might think of all of the facets of your life. Each tiny piece chosen represents the myriad friends and acquaintances which have crossed your path through this span of time known as your life. People, places, jobs, and interests cross your path, disappear for a while, and often re-emerge at a much later time, sometimes becoming more important, or perhaps meaning far less to you than you once would have imagined.
What can I say? Life happens – people who were immensely important eons ago may hold very little comfort or appeal later on. Who knows why, yet the quilt still holds all of these parts of your life, becoming a little frayed around the edges as the years march on and life continues. Each beloved and departed family member as well as each of your own children you’ve born and raised, combined with the precious little souls they add to the family tree is represented by the tiny blocks of flowers or stripes or solids mindfully cut and ever so tenderly placed in various shapes and sizes lovingly stitched in some recognizable pattern. All of these memories are hand-stitched with threads of love and tears of joy and sorrow as strong as a chorus of songbirds floating in the breeze.
Life leaves all of us tattered around the edges, too, and for many of us it is at that time that we seek solace and comfort from something more substantial than a worn weathered quilt. Realistically that source we seek is Jesus’ loving arms, and the piece of the quilt which represents that source of solace should be at the very center of our quilt. Invisible threads of His spirit should be what binds every facet of our life. All too often His piece of the quilt of our life is not added until life so overwhelms us that we look everywhere possible, and finally seek Him to cover all bases so to speak. Perhaps we allow Him to hover at the periphery of our life, so we can reach out and grab Him if we can’t take care of everything ourselves, in our own way, in our own time. Then, if it works out all right to have Jesus in our midst, if we can continue on doing the things we always used to do, talk the way we used to talk, go the places we used to go, party the way we’re accustomed to partying, He can stay in the quilt.
BUT, if life seems to go better without Him hanging over our shoulders bringing all kinds of guilt and discomfort, it’s easier to clip those threads, put Him in a drawer of the mind, and save Him for another time. Then when we’re with others who truly believe and for whom Jesus Christ is their source of strength, He can be plucked from their pocket, blow the dust off of Him, and proclaim why, yes indeed – I am a Christian, too. Ummmm, NOPE, it just does not work that way.
Remember earlier when I mentioned that sometimes we cross paths with others again later in life and maybe they aren’t as important to us as they once were? I worry for those people who want to “pocket” God and keep living their lives as they want. I know God won’t step away from us, but I’m often reminded of the time Kenneth was airlifted to St. Thomas. He knew nothing. There was no time for him to take God out of his pocket, had he been stored there, and ask for help. I know you’ve heard it before, but we don’t have a clue when our time is up, and our life is finished. If Jesus isn’t the thread that binds the pieces of your quilt, what will happen to it? Will someone find your quilt tossed among the trash headed to the dumpster, or will someone else be able to wrap themselves in the tattered quilt pieces of your life made stronger through the love of Jesus Christ? For, one thing is sure, life goes on, IF GOD is the fabric of our lives.
If you don’t have a home church, or if you are looking for a great place to visit, I invite you to join us at Tracy City First United Methodist Church. We have services at 8:30 and 11:00 on Sunday mornings. Our Sunday School is at 10:00. Youth church is on Wednesday nights at 5:30. I really think you will find what is missing in your life, and find eternal peace to add to the fabric of your life!