There is sometimes that niggling feeling in the back of my brain. This niggling leads to thoughts. The thoughts lead to…oh dear you know where this is going. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, pondering it’s meaning on this part of my journey. For months now there has been a song, by an artist i like that has just irritated me to no end. I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around what exactly was the source of irritation.
And then I woke up with “Refiners Fire” running through my head as both the song and the clarifying thought. I see art everywhere, more to the point I see God’s Creativity more and more in daily life. Hang with me here for a moment…I like going to places like Sturbridge Village and Colonial Williamsburg, in part for the history, in part for curiosity and in part for the creativity in unusual places, like in the blacksmith shop. A way back blacksmiths made so much, including horseshoes. “The blacksmith shop?!” I can just see the puzzled look on your face. Ha ha ha. Yes, the blacksmith shop. There are so many components that the blacksmith must learn to understand in order to make horseshoes (or whatever else he makes.) There’s the temperature of the fire, the metal he’s working with, when to reheat the metal he’s hammering, when to cool the metal in the water, what are the tools he needs for the specific job, if at the end of all of the the smithy has done his job well there will be well make horseshoes that fit the horse. I’m fascinated by how the smithy works back and forth between the fire and the anvil, using the bellows to add oxygen to raise the temperature of the fire to what is needed. Someone didn’t just wake up in the morning, decide they’re going to become the town blacksmith and set up shop. Nope, they apprenticed first. learning every single component including what not to do.
Sometimes learning new things take a little while. Sometimes I’m smart as a whip and really get things. Like quilting. I get quilting. I’m learning a new part of the industry and it’s going to take time to learn. This is an apprenticeship like no other I’ve ever had. I’m learning from one of the best in the industry, someone I’ve respected and admired for a long time. Oh my goodness!
So, back to the subject at hand. Refining or more to the point becoming a more authentic version of the self that God created me to be. Becoming more fully human, more fully Christian is becoming more fully who God Created me to be. It is recognizing that God gave me these gifts to use for him, that God gave me this sense of humor, and this level of intensity, and these feet and this heart – both the physical and emotional – that God gave me these things to learn and do and grow in Him, these are the things. I don’t have to say good-bye to anything about who I am as the person God Created. I do need to look for opportunities to use every part of who I am from the quilter/artist to the intensely emotional, wearing my heart on my sleeve, snarkiness (but not ever intentionally mean) to grow closer to God. I’ve been told for years I’m too personally sensitive meaning that I take things way too personally, am easily hurt and offended by people. The flip side of that is an ear that is willing to listen, a heart that feels deeply for others and a hug that, well if you’ve ever been truly hugged by me you know. I was once told by a teacher that I was two-faced, I think her intent was to tell me to take care of my own problems first then help someone else take care of theirs. It doesn’t always work that way, often it is in helping others that the healing/help we need in our own life, that whatever we need is given to us.
I’m snarky, there is absolutely no doubt about that. The flip side of that is that, given the right circumstances I’m quick witted and downright funny. This sometimes helps diffuse intense situations or could make them worse. Sigh. I feel so very blessed to have people in my life that get me.
Quilting is a huge part of finding my authentic self, becoming more and discovering more of who I am, in God. Quilting has helped me stretch and grow and really be patient and merciful with myself and therefore with others. Quilting has helped me become the teacher I thought I’d be when I was younger and realizing that I’m not particularly keen on working with kids, that I prefer to work with adults. There is something beautiful about seeing and adult get that they can still play with the colors they love and make something beautiful. It makes my heart sad when my students don’t get it…when I’ve missed something that they need in order to become more of who they are as a quilt maker, to know and learn deeply that there is a reason that seam rippers were invented. That learning how to quilt takes time and there will be a lot of quilts that just aren’t great. Some are downright awful. But it’s those awful ones that have the most to teach us, that will get us to making quilts that are better, than help us understand color and technique and cutting and piecing and using rulers and using pins (or not) and getting a machine. . .oh good lord I could go on with this forever.
Sometimes we need to put our self first, like Jesus did by going off to pray, so that we can grow and become more of who God wants us to be. I’m thinking of Peter and Paul and Mary Magdalen and Martha and her sister Mary. That Jesus taught them to be more of who they are as well loved children of God.
And to bring this to the Word of the Year. It’s all a journey, it’s a path to holiness, it’s a path to better quilt making, it’s a path to knowing deeply who God is and who we are.