The Deep End and Defining Terms

As a long time quilter I’m generally comfortable within the quilting language itself, and within said language a lot of the dialects exist. While my fluency seems to be in free-motion quilting I’m comfortable enough in art, patchwork, traditional, modern to converse. If I’m uncertain of a term or phrase used I’ll ask, because the desire to understand both what the quilter is describing, and where they’re coming from is essential. As quilt makers we use stash to describe our carefully curated palate of yard goods and other various lengths and measurements of fabric. Tension is part of my vocabulary in many of its uses and nuances.

I recently learned that “Defining Terms” is a tool employed in debating wherein words or phrases are given uses and purposes, thereby bringing everyone involved in the debate into clear understanding of how said words and phrases are used throughout the debate. Defining Terms offers each person the opportunity to actively participate in the conversation with a level of understanding that is key to both effective debate and communication. Culturally words can, and do shift in usage and meaning over time, and often regionally. A word or phrase can mean one thing to one person in the Northeast and something entirely different to someone in the Southwest, or in France, or London. Oh Words how I love you.

Often when entering a new craft, faith experience, hobby, or situation the conversation is already begun and those involved use the already defined terms with great ease leaving newcomers with a sense of exclusion rather than inclusion, while this is often unintentional. While there is a lot of information both faith wise and quilt wise easily and readily available, both are overwhelming in scope, leaving the knowing where to begin something of a mystery, and an overwhelming one at that. It is essentially why we need community to guide us through the learning process, and to show us patience, good technique and help us find our particular style of quilting, or form of spirituality in our given Faith expression. While I’ve been a Catholic longer than I’ve been a quilter there is a sense after 29/28 years respectively, of coming into my own with both. Part of this with both has to much to do with a desire to be formed, to form, and an openness to exploring more in each, a willingness to go in different directions. A willingness to be defined by the terms, which in one sense has the implication of losing my own identity but paradoxically has the joyous reality of finding Whose and who I am.

You might be surprised that this has led me to understand that there is a deeper need for spiritual maturity. This probably shocks no one but me.

While participating and leading the book study at Church part of the discussion turned to The Deep End. (I share with permission.) One woman shared that she and her husband gave their sons one of the coolest lessons I’ve ever heard. There is a common understanding that the deep end of the pool is where the water is deepest. While this is in and of itself an objective truth, the subjective reality is that the deep end of the pool is that place where your feet no longer touch the bottom of the pool. This deep end then naturally shifts with each person depending on their own height. This life lesson goes further, in a way to teach patience with others and give some understanding and grace, that in our day to day existence the deep end of the pool can, and does shift, and we can be in over our head depending on the situation. There are so, so many other life lessons that come from this analogy. What I really loved about this is that it is a perspective shift in that the deep end is not so much a permanent location but a personal reality, and that it is different for each of us.

I’m going to ask for your prayers for a situation wherein I need some growth. Thank you.

God bless,

Teri

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