"Each day is like a panel in a quilt. Some days are
ugly and some days are raw and some days are chaotic
and some days are colorful and some days are orderly
but if you keep adding them up they turn into something."
AUSTIN KLEON, "A Quilt Made of Days" online article
'A quilt made of days.' That phrase—borrowed from Austin Kleon who wrote about his idea HERE—captivates my imagination. Although I am not a quilter, I am an ardent admirer of talented seamstresses, including my mom, who skillfully piece swatches of fabric into gorgeous patterns that become something beautiful and useful in one's home. Their creativity inspires me.
Perhaps that's why I gravitate towards creator/author Austin Kleon's words. His comment above seems particularly fitting as we stand on the cusp of a brand new year. The days yet to come in 2024 are unknown to us but we guess that some will arrive bright and colourful; others will show up muted and dull, some will be raw with pain and filled with chaos. And still other days will arrive, thankfully, with calm and peace as the order of the day. To create an actual physical quilt, crafters start with a plan. They know the pattern they want to create; they have chosen their colour scheme. They carefully pick out the fabrics, cut them into the appropriate shapes, and sew them together into the design they dream about. When it comes to creating the more ethereal quilts made of days, in life we aren't given the materials ahead of time; we can't plan the pattern, we must make use of what appears. Still, if we pay attention we can make use of what shows up and gather the pieces—memories, experiences, events—that are our life story. We can watch as patterns emerge. We can learn to recognize the value each block brings to the developing design.
When I took a water colour painting course years ago, I came to see how paintings need contrasts: they need dark to show light, shadows to give depth and perception, darker backgrounds to set off brighter foregrounds. For me, I found the most important contrast was the juxtaposition of using something plain or dull, maybe even ugly, in order to set off a thing of beauty. It was a life lesson to learn that maybe we need ugly and pain to truly realize the immense value of beauty, order, peacefulness, and joy. I'd rather not experience the pain, but would I know the great joy without it to compare?
It's the same in the world of quilting with fabric... or the days of our lives.
I have always been drawn to Victorian crazy quilts (see the photo above for an example). Rather than blocks that march squarely into place, there's a kind of creative higgledy-piggledy that makes use of the tiniest bits of fabric alongside the larger pieces, all in various shapes, colours, textures, and patterns. Victorians would use scraps of fabric, often from worn out clothing and linens. They'd include swatches that had been handed down from one generation to the next—maybe from a great grandmother's wedding dress or a baby's christening gown—creating these lasting works of art that burst with texture and colour, embroidery and ribbonry. Fashioned from the days given to them.
As I said earlier, I'm not a quilter, but I'm mulling what a quilt made of days would look like for me. I'd probably fashion a 'quilt' from the bits and pieces of how my life unfolds in 2024, and rather than sew or craft with fabric or paint, I'd probably create a 'quilt' using words, watching for the patterns, hoping for more red letter days than chaotic ones. And when something ugly turns up, dear Lord, I'd want His help as I waited for the beauty when it isn't yet fully evident. Taking days as they come, all the while learning to walk with confidence and hopefulness, being comforted during trying moments embroidered with prayers, when laughter and cheer have flown off. There is something comforting about recognizing there's a bigger picture, one I cannot yet fathom, of One who is making all things work together for good, One who is creating something bigger than our individual lives. For in God's created world, we believe there is a greater plan and purpose, trusting that He is taking all things and fashioning them into something truly exquisite and out of this world.
I wonder what kind of a quilt it will become. With the craziness of life in our upside down world, I'm pretty certain my quilt of days will have its own slant on crazy quilt. While things happen to me and around me, it's also up to me to do something with what's given, whether I think a piece will fit or not. It's my job to creatively work my attitudes, gratitudes, prayers, and dreams, staying hopeful through the storm darkened days, enjoying the small joys 'that tip the balance towards hope' (a phrase borrowed from Sarah Clarkson). All the while imagining something beautiful... my own quilt made of days.
Happy New Year to you, dear beautiful friends!
With love and heart hugs,
Top Image by chenspec from Pixabay