Crazy Quilt Lives

By: Rachel Coltharp

Most quilts are carefully designed with both fabric colors coordinated and patterns of stitching thoughtfully and carefully planned out. Crazy quilts are not so. A crazy quilt might have a velvet triangle alongside burlap irregular shaped neighbor. Or there might be a piece of bridal white satin sewn to denim or cotton sack fabric.

In most quilts the beauty lies in its color and its uniformity. But when looking at antique crazy quilts one is struck by the beauty of the workmanship. For with the mix mash of colors and the jumbling of sizes and the varying stitch work what stands out most is the WAY in which it is put together.

In other quilts a pattern of stitches us used either in invisible or matching threads but in a crazy quilt the stitches themselves become the art. For they are not merely quilted, they are embroidered. You may see gold threads making a line of golden stars along one seam and a green and yellow flower motif gracing another. The rough burlap sack may have been joined with silken threads gently weaving it to the patch of velvet. With dazzling and vibrant intensity the stitches chosen beautifully marry the fabrics together.

Our lives are like crazy quilts. As much as we may long to be the uniformly sewn, perfectly matched version, we will never be so. For even though we plan, and do our best to have our lives in order (as we well should) life has a way of handing us experiences that must be worked into our life. Sickness, disappointment, death, hurt, pain and sorrow, each of us are at times handed these fabrics. And then there is the unspeakably ugly fabric of abandonment or abuse and its matching fabric of shame. It is ugly, rough and unlovely to the sight and the touch. And though we wish it were only on the inside of the quilt, those ugly pieces are right there on top mixed in with the pieces we love. For the ugly experiences touch even the beautiful ones.

Sometimes we find ourselves covered in this quilt of ugliness, this mismatch of pain, anger, disappointments and even rage. We feel so ugly. So unlovable. So alone. Huddled under the quilt of our experiences we often want to hide from the world and everyone in it. 

But God has a way of threading his needle and stitching our life together. Golden threads of grace can beautify the ugly fabric… trailing vines of forgiveness can surround the rough patches of hurt, strong bold stitches of faith can hold fragile pieces of sickness and sorrow together.

He can take golden threads of love and concern and stitch around the ugly fabric of neglect. He can thread the needle of our words with gentleness and firmness and stitch order into the chaos we live in. And with His help, we can join patches of velvety soft compassion to the pieces of abandonment or abuse. He cannot change the fact that we were hurt, neglected or ill-used. But he can take the fabrics, all of them, and make something beautiful of our lives. Opening ourselves up to Him is sometimes hurtful. Painful. Embarrassing. Letting him take needle and thread to our memories, our egos, our pride, our failures and our shame is no easy task. But if we will, he can make art of our heart.




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