First Church of the Quilt

I quilt for a lot of reasons.  Before we go any further, let me list a few of these reasons:

  1.  I happen to like fabric.  A lot.  I love the feel of it between my fingers and I love the colors and patterns that are out there now.
  2. I love putting things together.  While some people would call taking perfectly good material and cutting it into small pieces and then sewing it all back together insanity, I call it therapy.  It calms me down.  The whole process of making something beautiful and useful gives me clarity and serenity.
  3. I love sewing machines/long arm machines/embroidery machines.
  4. Sewing of any type works both halves of the brain.  Scientists and doctors think that processes that do that help stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s.

But there’s another reason I quilt:  the quilters.  When I tell about how I got involved in quilting myself, I always explain that it wasn’t necessarily the quilts that drew me to the art.  It was the quilters.  Sure, the quilts were beautiful and the process of making them was fascinating, but the quilters were simply wonderful people.  They were creative.  They were very self-assured.  They had a sense of humor.  And if they found out you quilted or wanted to learn to quilt, you were quickly admitted into their group.  You were one of them.  That circle of friendship expanded to let you in and surrounded you with their fellowship and love.  You’ve just joined the Sisterhood of Stitches.  There is no going back, and I’d be hard pressed to tell you how anyone else (save a few select family members) has had my back more than they do.

Let me illustrate. 

My regular readers know about my daughter and her cervical cancer battle.  And yes, the surgery was successful and we’re getting clean Pap smears. That battle front is working well, but the radical hysterectomy was major surgery.  The doctors and surgeons were very upfront with Meg and told her that it would take a year or longer for her body and immune system to get back to normal.  Which means little issues that used to give her no issues at all can become really big issues in no time flat.

Which was what happened a few weekends ago.  A tiny sore on her shoulder morphed into MRSA after a trip to an indoor water park.  And while I know that my daughter is much better than she was a year ago, the mother side of me panics now at the least little thing.  But one of the things I learned throughout this whole process is turn the panic into prayer.  So, I prayed.

And then I messaged five women that I quilt with and asked them to pray.

They did.  Then proceeded to message me throughout the day asking about Meg.  When the diagnosis came (it was definitely MRSA, but localized and not in the blood stream), they rejoiced with me.

Then one asked if the granddarlings needed a baby sitter.

Another told me to come by her house and get this Norwex towel set that is bacteria proof for Meg to use on her wound (because it was still open and draining). 

I know that some non-quilters would just simply call this my circle of friends and state that every woman should have these types women in their lives.  I agree with that.  But something about quilters is different.  Maybe it’s the fact that we’re tied together with needle and thread and fabric and a common passion that drives us to create.  However, I think it’s more than that.  Yes, we share a hobby we feel strongly about.  It’s a hobby that most of our fore mothers at some point undertook as a necessity and made it a work of art.  Maybe it’s a combination of lineage and creativity. Or maybe it’s the fellowship of stitches, and the laughter and tears that we share with each other.  It’s easy to talk to each other over beeswax, scissors, and fabric.  Fears and prayer requests are discussed in the same breath with patterns and color choices.  Support is given and taken.  Problems are voiced and solved.  Suggestions are made.  

This. This is ninety percent of the reason I quilt.  The Sisterhood of Stitches.  The love and support of a group.  While the entire process of quilting calms me and helps me focus, the fellowship of these women (and a few men) are truly (with apologies to Bette Midler) the wind beneath my wings.  They’re an awesome group of people.

I struggle lot nowadays.  Despite the fact that my family members are in a much better place this year than last year, the constant, seemingly endless barrage of doctor visits and tests still make me hold my breath and clutch onto hope with tight hands.  I know these things are necessary and crucial to keeping everyone healthy.  We all want our situations to go back to “normal” – what they were five years ago.  But that ship has sailed.  This is our new “normal,” at least for the near future.  It’s bittersweet.  While I hate this entire “new” normal in so many ways, it makes me appreciate my present and the people in it on an entirely different level.

I’ve learned to appreciate the groups that I quilt with even more through this process.  I jokingly refer to them as “The First Church of the Quilt.”  That may seem a tad blasphemous, but that’s the most accurate description.  Christ left us with a new commandment, “That you love one another, as I have loved the church and have given myself for it.”  I have not found this type of love and support in any religious institution I have ever belonged to.  In my quilt circles, needs are met.  Prayer requests given and taken.  Words of encouragement are spoken. 

This.  This is why I quilt.  Yes, it’s the fabric and the machines and the thread.  It’s quilt shows and rulers and gadgets.  But mostly…mostly it’s the fellowship.  It’s the Sisterhood of Stitches in the First Church of the Quilt.

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

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