Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Some of the Pieces , April 2000

Three of us from the Umpqua Unitarian Universalist Church in Roseburg, Oregon made this “Puzzling Pieces” quilt for the wall behind the pulpit. We used 99 different fabrics and introduced the quilt April 30, 2000 in a service entitled “Building Community Piece by Piece: Our Celebration Quilt.” We used various community and jigsaw puzzle quotes as well as “stories from Aunt Jane,” from the book, A Quilter’s Wisdom—Conversations with Aunt Jane by Eliza Calvert Hall.
Once upon a time, there was a woman who loved to make beautiful fabric wall hangings. And she was paid well for making them. So, she wasn’t really surprised when a friend asked her to make one for her home and wanted to see some patterns. So, the woman gathered up most of her patterns and loaned them to her friend.

About two weeks later, a very excited friend showed a picture to the woman. “Look at this pattern!” she exclaimed. “Can’t you see it as representing our congregation? I’d love to make it for our church!” Of course, the quilter agreed because she was also fascinated with the idea and the pattern. They both pictured a beautiful quilt hanging at the front of their church - a work of love for everyone.

So, that’s how this project began. I was the quilter and Judy my friend. Knowing Peggy was an excellent quilter, we asked her to join us. And, of course, the church is all of us.

You probably remember the small sample we hung on the wall in the coffee area a few months ago. We also asked you to contribute small amounts of fabric that you liked or that you felt represented you in some way. And many of you did. After getting your contributions, Peggy and I raided our own huge stashes for pieces to complete the quilt. One thing about us quilters - we visit fabric stores and take checkbooks wherever we go so we only had to buy about 8 fabrics for this project, mostly the shiny ones. Judy did her part by making more than 100 photocopies of each pattern piece.

We then laid out 99 different fabrics in rows upstairs in our loft, the largest undisturbed floor area we could find. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds because wanted to make sure we used fabrics that might represent various people here and that the pieces also looked good together. After spending about two hours rearranging them, we finally decided it looked just right. I’m sure some of you remember seeing all of those hunks of fabric on our floor and wondering what in the world we were doing with them.

About 2 weeks later, I spent several days scrunching around down on the floor, marking each pattern piece with which fabric to use. Then I soaked in the hot tub every night to get the kinks out of my back.

Peggy, Judy, and I then began the exacting work of cutting out pieces of fabric for each block. The best part of this was we spent a lot of time talking and got to know each other much better. I spent a few weeks sewing the blocks together and completing the top. We hung it up at the church one Saturday afternoon several weeks ago and just marveled at how wonderful it looked, even partially finished. The look on Judy’s face when she saw it hanging for the first time was priceless and I hope we’ll see that same look on some of your faces this morning as well. Peggy finished the quilt by sewing on the black border and the back, and Judy arranged the method to hang it.

All along, we agreed that we wanted to do a service, both to unveil the quilt and also to talk about the community it represents. Like the Grateful Dead song we played at the beginning of this service, the quilt idea was a “ripple in still water” that spread out to embrace the community of all of us.

Notice the jigsaw puzzle pattern of the quilt. Do you see how each block fits into those around it? I found a quote that describes perfectly why we selected this pattern. In the words of Rabbi Shapiro:

Consider a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece has its place and no other piece can fit that place. Yet no one piece makes sense on its own. Each piece needs the whole for its integrity and coherence. And the whole needs each piece to fulfill its purpose and bring meaning and order to the puzzle.

“What is true for a puzzle is true for Reality, with one exception: There is no hand putting us in our place. We must do that for ourselves. We must discover our place and take it. And when we do this, we discover the integrity and meaning of the whole.
The binding thread of this quilt is the love that intertwines itself through the making of the quilt, through people's relations with each other. Sometimes that thread gets broken or cut. Sometimes it is very strong, like quilting thread, sometimes very thin, like silk thread. But, it is still there to some degree. And, it holds everything together.
After the closing circle, members of the congregation gathered up front to touch the quilt and pick out blocks they felt represented themselves in some way. As one person commented, “I think part of me is in every block.”
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1 comment:

Yarntangler said...

As a lover of jigsaw puzzles, I can just picture the emotions that were pieced into this quilt. I'd love to see it one day.