We have to go back to the very beginning, to the Genesis account of Adam and the garden. The ancient rabbinic interpreters appreciated the first human being as the prototypical priest and the Garden of Eden as the primordial temple. In fact, the same Hebrew term is used to designate Adam’s cultivation of the soil and, much later in the biblical narrative, the priest’s activity within the Jerusalem Temple. Adam, we hear, walked in easy fellowship with God in the cool of the evening and spoke to him as to a friend. This ordering of Adam to God meant that our first parent was effortlessly caught up in adoration. The term “adoration” comes from the Latin adoratio, which in turn is derived from “ad ora” (to the mouth). To adore, therefore, is to be mouth to mouth with God, properly aligned to the divine source, breathing in God’s life. When one is in the stance of adoration, the whole of one’s life—mind, will, emotions, imagination, sexuality—becomes ordered and harmonized, much as the elements of a rose window arrange themselves musically around a central point. The beautiful garden in which the first priest lived is symbolic of the personal, and, indeed, cosmic order that follows from adoration. This is why, by the biblical telling, orthodoxy, literally “right praise,” is consistently defended as the key to flourishing and why idolatry, incorrect worship, is always characterized as the prime source of mischief and disharmony. The worship of false gods—putting something other than the true God at the center of one’s concern—conduces to the disintegration of the self and the society. Another way to formulate this idea is to say that we become what we worship. When the true God is our ultimate concern, we become conformed to him; we become his sons and daughters. When we worship money, we become money men; when we worship power, we become power brokers; when we worship popularity, we become popular men, and so on. How trenchantly the psalmist, speaking of carved idols and idolators, spoke this truth: “They have mouths but do not speak, eyes but do not see. They have ears but do not hear, noses but do not smell. They have hands but do not feel, feet but do not walk, and no sound rises from their throats. Their makers shall be like them, all who trust in them” (Ps 115:5–8).
Father Barron, Robert. Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith (pp. 20-21). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Imagine for a moment, if you will, being Adam and Eve before the Fall. Adam and Eve, in relationship with God, in an intimate way, spending time, walking, sharing the day. I wonder what that kind of intimacy feels like. That intimacy is the longing of the heart. The longing to for the wholeness of that relationship. The longing to fully be in right relationship with the other. Adam and Eve knew deeply and profoundly that intimacy with God, with themselves, and with one another.
I always think of them post fall, skinned knees, hands aching, hearts hurting, wondering what the heck they just did. They missed that intimacy. They missed the comfort of knowing that right then, that intimacy was gone, forever. Suspicions would forever rule in their hearts and minds. Wondering, always, if God loved them, never quite confident in that again. Wondering if food enough would exist. Wondering if…oh the beginnings of What If Thinking that sends us spiraling through thoughts that can lead to places of ugliness and self doubt, shattering the relationships with our God, our self, and our community that we are built for.
Quilters are keenly aware of community. We make quilts with and for one another, entering into a creative process wherein we actively participate in the work of others. Often this is a good, offering good information, good critique, and freely letting the person choose what they want to do next. When we’re not wed to exactly how the other person’s quilt comes out then what we have to offer is good. We can really screw people up sometimes. I learned just as much from people in hearing the strong, NO in my being, and honoring it. Their advice while sound, simply wasn’t the direction for me to pursue.
With the advent of the internet and blogs we have formed communities of like minded quilters in a variety of styles, allowing us in a broader way to explore the depths and definitions of quilting. This same internet has great potential for divisiveness, shattering communities, fostering doubt and shame. Building, nurturing, growing, exploring, and understanding is, like the Garden, the ideal, the place we can meet one another, embrace the beauty of our difference, and rejoice in our similarities. While we’re outside the Garden we can work toward building each other up. Like our quilts this will take some work, imperfections and all. There is beauty and grace in pursuing this building up.
Just as there is beauty and grace in discovering who we are as quilt makers.
Just as there is beauty and grace in building each other up.
Just as there is beauty and grace in honing our skills as quilt makers.
Just as there is beauty and grace in learning when not to say things.
Just as there is beauty and grace in sunsets, and photos, and writing, and good plumbing.
Quilting is a creative process.
Faith is a creative, creating process.
Quilting is an experience of our best self, and our best community life, and our best creative life.
May you find the best of the creative quilting community this week.