For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
– Ephesians 2
Shh don’t tell anyone but it’s actually unpasteurized apple cider in my glass. It’s the flavor of my childhood. While looking for something else I happened upon the apples. The memory of going to the old wooden barn, filled with the fragrance of cider donuts, musty wood, the wood burning fire place, the melody of a player piano, and the foot steps of kids running around with my folks comes to mind. Oh was that strong. oh wow.
In one sense it’s amazing how that one picture brought that moment right up here into this present moment. My dad loved this time of year from the balloon festivals, to donut picking with the kids, and grand kids. The camera his constant companion. My sister got a shot of him once taking a picture at this apple orchard of our childhood. I’m still amazed at that memory and that autumn isn’t complete without a trip to an orchard to go donut picking, take pictures, enjoy the warmth of the most delicious part of the year.
Back to our regularly scheduled program. A small group of friends are participating in an online Bible Study. “Masterpiece” or “Handiwork” is part of the focus of the study, it’s rediscovering, reclaiming our value, our identity that we, as women, so often set aside and lose in the grind of daily life. The author of the book we’re reading shares the tales of her commutes home, having those “God help me” conversations, the cry of the heart through the struggles of daily life. I’ve shared the ugly cries on the way home, sitting in front of my sewing machine wondering what where and how things are going to happen.
At some point my identity, and therefore my value became entangled in what I do, how I quilt, how I write. Yeah, yeah, these are not my only skills but there the ones currently sitting in the back drivers seat speaking the loudest. All the while I was reading the Ragamuffin Gospel and other works reminding me of God’s mercy and grace, I was clinging to the outer sources of doing and working for validation of my goodness and desirability as a person and as an employee. In the midst of all this my Sweetie was in the background reminding me of the Truth and I railed against that truth, because if this _______ and this _______ and this ______ weren’t happening then obviously I’m not lovable and not worthy.
As a quilt maker I have an in-depth understanding of handiwork and the skill that develops over time to get to that place where the skill, desire, and hard work lead to the artistry one imagines starting out in any craft. I still have a lot to learn! That’s the beauty there’s always so much to learn, so many places to grow. While trying to honor God with the gifts he’s given me, I got wrapped up in the doing, rather than the being. That’s okay, clearly I needed to do this, and experience the deep dryness that has surrounded me over the last couple of years. Way back in February I was reminded of the beauty of the desert. While in Las Vegas I longed to go be in the desert, while spiritually I was already there. The wide open spaces, the occasional bird circling and calling, the flora indicating the presence of water, yet without physical visual presence. The desert feels like a place of loneliness, and yet God’s presence is there; the desert feels like a place of punishment, and yet it is a moment to get to the bare essentials of our identity; the desert feels like a place of spiritual dryness and yet it is a place to quench the thirst and longing.
I know deep down what clearly reminded me of God’s love for my whole person – not just the quilter/writer – and it is a place similar to the desert where one stands before God who has run to meet you! and recounts the things that are recognized as driving the wedge in the relationship, and one accepts God’s mercy for what it is, His Mercy, His Way in His time.
Just as that childhood memory flooded back bringing a smile to my face and heart; the all-encompassing Love of God comes flooding back quenching a thirst, filling my mind and heart with sweet reminders of the love and passion God extends to us. I’m accepting God’s loving embrace with deep gratitude. And recognizing God’s handiwork.
As I get here in the moment, I’m reminded that fear is the one thing that holds me back from embracing life in a way that honors God’s handiwork in me. Hmmm thoughts for another day.