Yesterday at a fundraising sale for a local church’s mission team, an old quilt caught my eye.
When I picked it up, I discovered it was actually two identical quilts. Both were in really rough shape: threadbare in many places, gaping holes exposed globs of cotton batting; and stains spotted the dingy fabric.
The simple nine-patch pattern and colors, white and a milky-green, are what initially caught my eye. When I ran my hand over the soft, well worn fabric, I knew I had to have them. They needed to be loved and given another chance for usefulness.
As I was leaving, an older volunteer caught my arm. Her eyes were bright.
“You bought those?” she asked. I nodded. Her eyes smiled and she replied, “Good girl!”
She, too, recognized the value in what had been discarded.
When I got home, I spread both quilts out on the floor. They were in worse shape than I thought. Yet I was certain, with effort, the gaping holes were repairable and the loose stitching could be restitched. As for the dinginess and stains, since oxi-clean often works wonders, I tossed them both in the washing machine on the delicate cycle. I decided a gentle washing would reveal what I would be working with. I figured if things didn’t go so well in the wash, I could use what was salvageable for pillows.
While the wash did leave clumps of cotton in my dryer, the quilts came out with most of the stains gone and the colors brighter. A light ironing gave me a better look at the damage. I cut away the batting that I could not tuck back in place and, for a large gaping hole, ironed in a small piece of fusible interfacing to hold it together enough so I could stitch it. Eagerly, I sat down at my sewing machine and began the repairs.
As my hands guided the fabric under the needle, my mind was filled with thoughts of the history of the quilt. If it could talk, what would it tell?
I imagined a mother sitting at a sewing machine, her feet quickly pumping the treadle while carefully piecing the small blocks together. Since the quilt is larger than a crib size, but smaller than a standard twin, I determined the quilts were made for youth-sized beds, most likely in the 1930s. Were they really made for twins? Or just siblings very close in age? Were the quilts identical because aesthetically matching decor, even back then, was important to the mother? I pondered if the rust stains were evidence of iron headboards? I visualized the mother sitting in a rocker at night, carefully hand quilting the fabric and with every stitch, picturing her children tucked warmly beneath the covers.
I carefully maneuvered the fabric and noticed evidence of previous repairs. Uneven hand-stitching reinforced some seams and folded ribbon was used to repair the raveling binding. I chuckled; since the blankets that were on my bed growing up were all bound with the same polyester satiny ribbon, I concluded this repair was done sometime in 1960s.
I finished the first quilt, pleased because the repair stitching blends in well. Where it is noticeable, it gives character. It is now ready to be repurposed as a throw for cool winter days and cold evenings.
Again, I pondered the backstory of the quilts. Were they donated because of their neglected condition, deemed unrepairable? Were they not considered worth the effort to at least try to repair? Or were they a family heirloom, passed down, but had no value to the beneficiary?
I understand not everyone likes old things, and indeed, someone’s trash became my bargain treasure.
I run my hands across the quilt. It is draped across my lap as I type. Not only is it providing warmth, it inspires me to ponder similarities I share with the ages-old fabric.
There have been so many times when, for one reason or another, I feel rejected and discarded. Some days, the fabric of my life is so ripped, with gaping holes and unraveling that I can barely function. And now that I find myself approaching a new season, a season I have anticipated yet because it doesn’t look or feel like I thought it would, I struggle to find purpose and usefulness. Do I still have value?
Thankfully, each one of my ponderings are quickly countered by Truth.
Yes, there have been, and will be, times when I feel rejected, discarded and not included; yet the Word of God says that I am His chosen and beloved.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,
so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him
who has called you out of darkness
into His marvelous light. ~ 1 Peter 2:9
God has healed my rips, gaping holes and bound my unraveling. He has given me beauty for ashes.
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the cloak of praise instead of a disheartened spirit.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord,
that He may be glorified. ~ Isaiah 61:3
While I may struggle to find my purpose, I can rest in the truth that God has a plan for every season of my life.
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord,
‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11
And yes, as long as I have breath, I will have value.
Perhaps you were created for such a time as this. ~ Esther 4:14
Now, I am ready to tackle the second quilt. And as I work, I will be listening to what the Lord may speak. May I have ears to hear and a heart to know how to be useful to His kingdom.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16