This is my twenty-sixth Lent. Each one, like each year of life, is unique. My Sweetie and I have been reading from Henri Nouwen before dinner, with each reading there is a sip of cool water, or a really good wine. Either way you go.
Over the last few weeks the idea of practicing well has come to mind.
When I first started learning to quilt the fact that my quilts were finished was the biggest accomplishment, and the biggest deal. As well it should be as our journeys of faith, and quilting take place one stitch, one step at a time. Neither journey is particularly easy, both are fraught with doubt, struggle, and great joy.
Both journeys require practice. Every single day. The practice in either discipline takes work, effort, risk, a willingness to move in a direction you didn’t see coming, a willingness to fight the fear of missing out, and the I’m not good enough. Oddly enough both of these are quenched with gratitude for this present moment and skills learned.
And there it is, in order to learn a skill one must practice. Most of the practice happens in the doing, every single day, those things that help us to improve: applying consistent pressure across the rotary cutter so it doesn’t shift, spending fifteen, then thirty minutes in prayer, changing needles (hand/machine) with more frequency, learning about thread, needles, intercessory prayer, reading scripture or the catechism, praying the Rosary. It all takes time to learn. And….
Practicing is a skill in and of itself, whether in faith, or in quilting. We practice our faith, for we know there is always something more to learn and grow. Something of our very self that we need to turn over to God. Something of our friends and loved ones that point out that very same thing we need to turn over to God. In quilting our practice changes over time. While still learning machine quilting I used stencils to create okay feathers. After a seminar with a seriously famous quilter who showed us how to stitch feathers I came home and stitched an entire 72” square quilt out in feathers of different sizes. This essentially changed how I practice from using stencils to mark the quilt prior to stitching to filling in the space with what I wanted to quilt and not giving one hoot what it looked like. Fat quarters are filled with motifs using different threads, single or double layers of batting, needles, adjusting the machine tension, and speed until the stitches are just right. Then it’s doing this over, and over, and over again. Every single quilting teacher I know practices, practices, practices and they teach practicing, practicing, practicing. Why? Because like the mystics, monks, religious, and every day women and men who pray, and practice their faith practice makes us better. Notice I didn’t say perfect.
Quilts, and people aren’t perfect, we do get the opportunity to practice, to improve our practicing so that we grow along the journey, and take others with us.
Speaking of journals, journeys and practicing check out The Catholic Journaling Bible on Blessed is She. Sometimes while reading, and praying we like to make notes, the margins in our Bibles being the place. This Bible has plenty of space, and is lovely to behold. I learned of this on Leticia Ochoa Adams fb page.