“That’s mine,” I heard my wife say softly.
That’s a piece of Essie’s old dress,” said another voice that sounded strangely like my Oklahoma mother-in-law.
“That was from my old brown suit.”
“Why, I’ve got more pieces in here than anybody!” the voices continued back and forth, as snitches of conversation drifted into my consciousness.
Like a softly bouncing ball, the bantering continued back and forth as Kitty and her mother studied the individual remnants that gave direction to what would soon be their newest quilt top. The two veterans sorted and matched from their seemingly-endless odds and ends of scrap, only remnants of discarded clothing and throw-a-way items of all description--all useless remnants.
I am a non-quilter, having grown up in a home without quilters. My wife learned quilting as a child at her mother’s knee. She and her mother saw something potentially useful in every old scrap. Thus, they searched and sorted through a drawer full of quilt tops, scraps that I viewed as utterly useless. After their careful search, they selected those they thought most promising, stacked them nearby and purposefully stitched them into another well-blended quilt top, attractively patterned.
Mary had been a quality seamstress in her younger days, making most of her clothes while raising a large family. Now worn with the weariness of her years and deteriorating health; her visits with daughter Kitty extended into lengthy periods of convalescence. The two, mother and daughter consequently filled quiet days, and months, with conversation beside the quilting frames, needles in hands, making the most of Mary’s gradually diminishing health.
Mary’s original hand-stitched quilts were creative master pieces. She created them with, artistic skill and stitched them with love. She had started teaching her daughter even before she took her to the country school nearby. Years later, I wrapped up in sleep under the protective warmth of one or another of those quilts--the lovely wedding ring pattern given as a wedding gift decades ago being my favorite.
Quilt scraps are just that--useless bits of cloth, candidates for the trash bin. To me, they appear insignificant and without purpose; but in the eyes of an artistic seamstress, they form a living vision. Mixing multiplied shapes and forms, they take on creative designs. The journey may be ever so devious, from a favorite garment, or even the discard pile. Yet, when appreciated and properly viewed, artistically matched-and-stitched together, they revealed a new creation and launched a new life of touching people.
Such useless scraps become heritage gifts for family members, or special-occasion delights. Once useless, now transformed; they become family heirlooms, generational treasures whose value increases with each passing generation.
That long ago conversation between two of the most important people in my life yet causes me to pause and reflect on the people I’ve known, the places I’ve been, and the experiences I’ve shared—mostly good, a few bad. Seen individually, many seem insignificant--people without purpose--experiences without worth--useless scraps.
Yet when viewed creatively, and stitched artfully together, I observe a new wholeness--a refreshing collage that reflects a loving God--a Master Quilter. When he views, sorts, and reassembles our useless scraps, and creatively stitches them into a fine, new quilt top, it transforms life and creates new meaning, restores lost values, and promises reassuring comfort.
Could this be what Paul meant when he told the church at Rome, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose… ” (Rom. 8:28, NKJV)? If He is for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:28, 31b). For, as he suggests, “who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Will tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword? “I am persuaded that none of these things shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:35-39).
We press forward blind and unthinking, viewing life’s difficult assignments and odd moments but seeing little treasure. Consequently, we lack appreciation for those unpleasant and seemingly-useless odds and ends that life has stitched together for us. Until ... quite unexpectedly, but by the grace of God, we catch a glimpse of a lovely quilt top--a potential blessing for someone.
And so with day‘s end approaching, in spite of my oddly-shaped, seemingly-useless scraps of life, I reaffirm my faith in God’s creative ability to match my odd assortment of diversity and variegated color and I take new hope in his compassionate caring,
Time and again: has he not revealed His proven ability to recycle them into a usability that can transform my life while blessing another? I am