In our Body
Quilting is, by it’s nature, from beginning to end a tactile and visual experience. We experience every step of quilting through the senses of touch, and sight. If you’re a hand quilter think about the motion of rocking the needle through the hooped up layers, loading the needle with consistent stitches, pulling it through. Think about knotting the end, and hearing that satisfying little pop when the knot pops into the batting layer.
As a machine quilter that pop, brought over from hand quilting days, is as satisfying. Guiding the quilt as the stitches form under the needle, feeling the weight of the quilt, pushing, pulling, guiding. Hands, arms, feet fully engaged in the tactile presence of fabric, batting, thread.
Quilting engages the mind, the imagination, actively selecting color, pattern, design. Patterns dance delightfully in our minds engaging our minds in contemplation of All the possibilities. Endless possibilities. Our imagination drinks deeply from the well of creative possibility, while our minds sometimes hit the brakes. (Must. Change. This.)
Quilting engages our heart as we make for friends, family, strangers.
Several years ago I walked into my sewing room thinking I’d quilt for twenty minutes or so. I’d just had abdominal surgery four week prior and was feeling pretty good. Sitting at the machine I pressed the foot pedal and saw stars, in the full light of day. It was in this moment that I discovered a truth: quilting is a full-contact sport.
Just as so many other things in life we experience, fully experience quilting in our whole person: body, mind, soul. We experience faith in our whole person: body, mind, soul. Quilting is a gift that leads us ever deeper into our relationship with our Creator, if we let it. We have the opportunity to thank God all along the way for our hands, feet, mind, imagination, for the hands that make fabric, thread, batting, notions, for the industry that grew up around this math oriented craft, for the friends we make, for the concepts we struggle with, for the concepts that come easily, for the friends we lose, for the struggles in relationship – Thanks be to God.
After receiving Communion I was kneeling in the pew, thanking Jesus – fully, wholly Present in the Eucharist, always – for coming to dwell in the tent of my human person the realization of In my Body, that we experience this life in our bodies, our soul is part of our body; our mind is part of our body; quilting is part of our body; reading is part our body; our friends and fellow quilters are experienced in our body – our faith, our hope is experienced in our body.
I can feel hand quilting, when I start describing it my right hand will cup into position and begin rocking as though I am stitching. When I speak of machine quilting my hands will take the position and get ready to stitch. When I teach there is a walking around the room, the touching of shoulders, the physicalness of showing quilters how-to do the thing they want to do. For some of us quilting is one way we come to know God in a physical way, through engaging our full presence, our bodies in the very act of quilting, it is like breathing, being. It is an intimate vulnerable act of being.
It is this intimate vulnerability we put on the line when we step outside of our sewing rooms submit to shows, magazines, publish patterns, all of it. It’s why we can be, and sometimes are, deeply hurt when the work of our hands is not received well. We physically ache.
It is this same intimate vulnerability that offers us the greatest opportunities for growth in faith, quilting, our relationship with God. Receiving the Eucharist at that Mass, in any Mass is an intimate vulnerable experience. We literally and figuratively open our very self, in our body to God, and to one another. In quilting we open our very self to others. We discover more of who we are meant to become through this full body contact sport.
Do: take note of all of quilting this week and how it is fully experienced in your body
Prayer: God of Creation draw us closer to you in our bodies through the gift of quilt making. Thank you for the gift of quilting, all of it, every stitch, every person, every moment when the seam ripper must come out. Thank You for drawing me closer to Your very self in such an intimate, tactile way. Amen