Wednesday, May 30, 2007
A long walk
I've been thinking about why I'm hand quilting this week and what it means to me. I am by no means saying that I think hand quilting is superior to machine quilting!! Please don't misunderstand me! In the past few months I've been enjoying machine quilting and I find it an art in itself not just a time saving technique. I'm just kind of running things through my mind, especially since I'm hand quilting this Wonky Word quilt right now.
I remember hearing a story about a missionary who lived in Central America for many years and when she was getting ready to return to America, the missions board sent out an announcement to all the churches she had ministered to that she was leaving. One day an old man arrived at her door carrying two coconuts as a thank you gift for her time with them. She was very touched by the gift but she was more concerned about the man whom she knew had had a four day walk from his village just to give her the coconuts. "Thank you so much for your gift, but what a long walk you had to have!" The old man replied, "Long walk part of gift."
This is what I thought of when I decided to hand quilt this quilt I'm making for Leiya. Hand quilting is a long process that requires months of time. But it is soothing to me, it seems to bond me to a quilt. As I do it I see the recipient in my mind's eye and I imagine how the person will react to the quilt. That's not to say that I'm sure the quilt will be absolutely adored. The person receiving it might not like the colors or the pattern or whatever. The quilt of course is the gift that I will give them, but I'm also handing them the gift of my time. Time that you can't see with your eyes. The time is part of the gift.
We quilters make quilts for people; friends, strangers, people we love, people we want to help, strangers in need. There are a lot of people who benefit from our gifts. Even machine pieced and machine quilted quilts require a set amount of time to make. This is not just true of quilting. So do knitted sweaters and socks, embroidered bags, and pillows. We could easily go the store and buy a person a blanket or a sweater. In some cases, the purchased present might be worth more monetarily, it might be more beautiful. It might be just what the person has asked for. But the handmade gift is not just the material gift. It is the gift of time too.
For that matter. Cooking a dinner instead of driving through the fast food lane is a gift of time to our families. Cleaning the house instead of letting the dust pile up is the gift of time sacrificed to our families (instead of spent in our own pursuits?) Playing a game with the kids is a gift of time. Relaxing with our spouse is a gift of time too.
I say, yeah to all of us who give our time to the people around us. It is the most valuable possession we have even if no one can see it. Next time you're making something for someone and wonder why when you have so many other things to do, remember, "Long walk part of gift."