At day 28, and Easter about a month away finishing the Forty Days of Prayer for Quilter Posts seems a much more attainable goal. Somewhere in a old, now gone journal there is a list of topics that while there remains some desire for it, there is also a gratitude for listening in, leaning in to where the Holy Spirit is leading. My innermost being needed to be open and ready and while I write that, if you know me and my face it’s showing a bit of doubt still, asking the questions, “am I really open and ready?” and “am I listening to the Holy Spirit?” and saying “Lord I long to be open and trust in your grace in the Word and in the words.”
In recent reading preparing for a book study I started making notes in the journal I’m using about the Quilt Police, dun dun dun! The chapter was on the Woman Caught in Adultery, several of us had a hard time reading it. The author rephrases a lot in the chapter, in part to make the point that God, Jesus loves us, that even in our biggest mess when the community sees us in all our shameful ugliness and has taken us to Jesus with the stone in their (our) hands, God still loves us. Jesus sees our innermost being, that He created us for who we are, and loves us. The community at large shaming us, ready to cast the stones, and rocks hurling them with great enthusiasm, because they are doing just the right thing, bringing and restoring order to the community. Showing others that actively participating in this sin will have the same results.
In the margins of the book I wrote something to the effect of if she was caught, where was he? Why wasn’t he brought with her to the feet of Jesus? And I think back to Adam basically saying, “she made me do it.” SMH. Okay. Fine. Whatever. I love how the author describes this moment with Jesus, he’s on the ground with her, at first writing in the dirt and saying let he who is without sin cast the first stone, then speaking the words of life to her. Your sins are forgiven go in peace. It occurs to me that Our Lord is modeling what would become the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we hear those words in the Confessional where we lay ourselves vulnerable at Jesus feet, seeking mercy and forgiveness. What Jesus does in this moment of forgiving her, and in aiding the community in an examination of conscience is restore her fully to the community. He invites each member of the community to give consideration to extending grace and mercy, Jesus calls the community to recognize their own faults to see that perhaps they are more like the woman they threw at His feet.
Over my years as a quilter I’ve heard about, experienced, and if I’m honest, been the Quilt Police. In point of fact any time I offer a lecture/trunk show of my quilts I will flat out say, “I was one of those quilters who said, if it wasn’t hand quilted it wasn’t a quilt. I didn’t know what it was but it wasn’t a quilt.” Sometimes I offer an apology. Historically we know that as soon as sewing machines were available quilters were machine quilting. And it is in this that I am still surprised by the truth that I am in fact a machine quilter with a voice all my own, who in so many ways isn’t afraid or shamed in using that. I am learning to long arm quilt adding to my own skill set and embracing a different way of looking at and doing the machine quilting process. I’ve never been opposed to long arm quilting it just wasn’t my thing, further I didn’t have room in my home for a long arm so home sewing machine it is.
While it would be years before I would ever embrace machine quilting I remember the scandalous ripples through the quilting community when a machine quilted quilt was in one of our biggest shows and shocker! it won a big prize, if memory serves it was, wait for it, Best in Show. I can hear the conversations about how awful this was, from women who were using rotary cutters and rulers instead of templates and scissors to cut everything as accurately as possible. These tools just turned 40 a few years ago, so why wasn’t this scandalous. Hmmmm
Anyway I’ve been the one making stupid comments at quilt shows. And Yes, I do know this has more to do with me than with them. But, what if the quilter was nearby hearing me make these stupid comments. What if she’d taken a HUGE risk in making this quilt and putting it in the show only to have me denigrate her hard work, shaming her for her choices and even daring to put such a thing in a show! Hmmph. Early on in the days of blogs and message boards I’m sure I made other asinine comments. Probably stirred up and fueled by the someone else’s indignation over a perceived offense.
The members of the Quilt Police think it’s essential to take big name quilters down a peg or two because of Big Name Quilters success in the quilting community. We do need to keep her humble after all, that’s our job. Our. Job. To keep BNQ’s humble. There’s another branch of the Quilt Police who believe that certain colors should not be used in quilt making. At All. How Dare she use That Color it’s brash and sasseh and should Not be used in Quilting. Ever. Okay maybe in little bits, but seriously, that color. Then there’s the affiliates who think that patterns are too expensive. And another that think all things quilt related should be low cost or free because how dare a BNQ or BNQIT (BNQ in training) make a living, be able to pay rent or a mortgage and eat. If they eat it should be modestly, you know a side salad with a packet of ketchup and mayo mixed together for dressing. Oh let’s go a little wild and add a packet of pickle relish. Water, a BNQ or BNQIT must drink water, tap water because you know it’s free, right.
The Quilt Police have another way of showing up. In our heads making the negative comments about our work. These comments can be helpful in noticing areas where we can improve our work. The problem is though that they often go too far causing us to experience great shame for even thinking our quilting will ever improve enough to be worthy of showing another quilter. Personally I’ve had quilters hesitate to show me their machine quilting because I’m skilled. Please show me your quilting. If you ASK I will help you, and will ask questions to make sure that you’re getting what you need rather than what I think you need. If I’m not asked for suggestions I won’t offer them. I will tell you that you’re doing good work. I will also tell you not to point out the flaws in the quilting. Show me what you did! Allow me the opportunity to rejoice in your hard work, to encourage you to keep going, moving through the process of learning.
The Quilt Police in our heads, in my head are shaming and accusatory. The Quilt Police in person are mean and belittling. And while they may have something good to offer in improving overall technique when it comes to color and thread choices it’s good to keep the comments to yourself. And by yourself I am not excluding myself here in anyway. While I did make a commitment to not make anything other than uplifting comments to people about their quilts there are moments when my mouth engages before my brain can remind me.
I do have opinions about quilt styles, there are some I like and some I don’t. I have opinions about thread and color and about how much machine quilting is appropriate. These are my opinions that do not reflect on how I see your hard work in making your quilts. You get to be a quilter as unique as you are a person and you are a one-off, never to be repeated. We need your work, we need your quilt making as part of the quilting community. We need YOU as part of the quilting community. You are important and worthy of being here, showing your work, and aspiring to be that BNQ!
One of the new testament writers says that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And Jesus is down in the dirt with us holding those who would condemn us for our sin back. Forgiving us, telling us our Sins are Forgiven and to Go in Peace.