Veena Writes for Georgia Weekly Post:
I had not seen my daughter for the longest time.
Now grown, and with a mind of her own, she would go through stages of 'I'm not talking to you.'
I had learned to live with longing and a broken heart, watching for her footsteps, and being disappointed; waiting for the sound of her car driving up, and seeing it's someone else; longing to hear her laughter and her sassy jokes, remembering them in my mind.
And her announcement as she open the door from the garage on entering my studio home: "Hi Mom!" I had not heard from her. It had been the longest time. My longings were becoming cold.
Then the phone rang, it was her. She was calling. "Are you home?"
"Yes," I said, happiness flooding over me. It's a sweet joy, this joy of loving the sound of a loved one. Especially the sound of your child.
"I'm stopping by. I'm working on this patch for a quilt for Lindsey. Remember Lindsey? Well she's getting married. We are making a quilt . All the Bridesmaids. I'm a Bridesmaid. We are all making our own patch for the quilt. It's going to be called a Wedding Quilt. Im making a patch. I'll show you. I want you to help me sew the edges. It's fuffy. Sort of. Fat. You'll see."
Her excitement caught me. I was excited. To see it. To hear about it. Her words were rushing through . It's the way she speaks. You sort of have to figure things out. But her passion is always clear. Always shows through.
I waited, quietly.
She has a way of just 'popping' in. Sometimes she tells me. Sometimes she does not.
This time she did. "I'm on my way," she had said.
She was quiet and calm when she came. But she was full of talk of the patch she had been working on. We went directly downstairs to the sewing room. "Look," she said. " I've been working on this for 45 days."
45 days! A quilted square, 12" x 12". It had cotton - wool batting that needs to be stitched around the edge. On top, on blue fabric, were two needle pointed roses and around them were stars.
In the middle were these words: "When two hearts in love unite.The road is short & the burden light."
The finished square is to be one of 8 pieces by each of the Bridesmaid. All created by the Friends for their Friend's wedding. In the center of the circle of 8 pieces is to be a wedding octagonal.
And the Maid of Honor is to put all the pieces together. All this will be set in a larger background.
It will then be 'The Wedding Quilt' made by the Bridesmaids and the Maid of Honor.
I was deeply moved thinking about the meaning of this and seeing my daughter's loving needlepoint in front of me.
The tenderness of love, the commaradrie, the togetherness, the values that humans, and humans who are superior in a civilized race, the unbroken, everlasting pact of friendship with Love, sown together in each stitch to form this quilt of warmth and love.
This is the Beauty of Life. Here, the apex of an inverted pyramid, pinpointed in a little River town, in this New
Millennium --- the glorious 21st century, with all its advancements, and gadgets and gizmos and high-flown ideas that have spun a sparkling web in the clouds; and in that basic harshness of war and hate and lies, here: pinpointed, we have alive - still alive - the emotions that give rise to the love that makes this piece of art: The Wedding Quilt.
It is the thread that stitches these pieces together, and weaves a pattern on the face of the fabric that together weaves a confirmation that Love Still Lives.
And those hopes and desires and passions that make us alive are still throbbing in the warmth of Joy in a Love and Happiness that IS: unquestioned and unchallenged like the elemental essence of life.
In the middle of everything: THIS still IS.
American patchwork quilts were unfamiliar to me. I had never seen one, just vaguely heard of them as an art form when I was a little girl growing up. The first time I saw one was when I visited the Menonnites of Iowa.
I went to a Mennonite village. We went down the steps leading to the basement. Right at the bottom of the stairs, in front of me was a quilt stretcher filling up the room with barely place for chairs around the quilt stretched taut across the stretcher.
There was nobody in the room. The quilt with its stretcher was a Presence in the room, dominating it entirely. The room was just a bit larger than the stretcher. The ceiling was low, perhaps 7 feet or 8 feet high. It was a typical American Midwest single family home basement.
Here, this home had a quilt-stretcher and a quilt half finished fastened on the stretcher. I saw the pattern had already been traced on the quilt. Then I saw the needles. There were fine small embroidery needles along the edges in the quilt in front of the chairs, now vacant, when the women had left when they took a break from their work. Wooden chairs. Early American farm chairs. Cushionless. Some turned sideways as if the occupant had left carelessly.
The custom of this village reflects the culture of the American Midwest. After dinner the women would gather in the home where a quilt was being created and sew.
They would work on the quilt visiting and chatting as whey worked. There was a joint communication. There was
mentorship. There was the sharing of Joy and Grief. There was togetherness. There was Community. There was solidarity and belonging. Belonging, the second most important emotion after Love.
These quilts moved from home to home..from basement to basement. The men set the stretchers up, and mounted the quilt. Then take the finished quilt down, and move the stretcher to the next house.
This Revolving Quilt Stretcher, as I call it, saw many homes, absorbed much of what it means to be Human. The Quilt Stretcher, in a way, kept the village together. It was the center of the centrifugal energy spinning around the Mennonite village. The men in the peripheries, tending the livestock and the farms, creating wood crafts and little inventions.
The women, just inside the peripheries, tending to the kitchen and the children and the weave of family, pivoting around them. And in the center of it all was the Quilt, being quilted on the Stretcher. The Revolving Stretcher connecting homes together.
And, somehow, for me, I see the permanence. Like the waters of Rivers, before the beginning of human Time, this warmth and love flows. Uplifting. Binding. Reassuring in its Permanence. Telling all who see that what IS, will be, will continue, will withstand, will hold -- Will continue to Flow , when those who give & those who receive begin a new life. And here, we see the thread of Time weave its way to the moment: a piece for a Wedding.
For the Wedding is not for the One only who is to marry, or for the Spouse who is being married to. A Wedding is for all those who, like the Wedding Quilt, share each other's lives, growing with Life's changes, and reflecting the change in their own lives.
Like the pattern that is embroidered, these lives are woven together, intertwined, embroidered one into each other. And when the one changes, all the others change too. "Let sorrow not envelope you," that is a Blessing the Wise in the East give to One who seeks: The Seeker.
The Wedding Quilt is a crystallized expression in Art of that Blessing.
When friends share, with their love, and their commaradrie, how can sorrow touch you?
This is the world we live in. These are the Waters of the River we are in. This River that leads to the Ocean is, in all actuality, the world we have to cross.
I told my daughter that at Rotary they ask every week: what is it that made you happy this week?
When the question came to me, and they asked me, "What are you happy about this week?"
I had told them about the Wedding Quilt for which my daughter had been needle-pointing for 45 days, and of her coming over for sewing, about the perfect mother-daughter moment when we were together.
She was taken aback, "Don't tell anyone about who it's for," she said. "Lindsey doesn't know about it. It's a surprise. And if she finds out and it's not a surprise, you'll get killed. And I won't be the one killing you." A surprise. All this enormous work is being done as a surprise. This adds a further quality and depth to the Beauty of the meaning of the Quilt.
The Bride doesn't know. And she will know of their Gift of Love. How deep that emotion is - of silent love, and planning. Of the giving of Joy.