All of my quilts come from a spiritual place or from something that tickles my funny bone. They come from things I think about and work out in a symbolic way for my own self.
I was thinking about trees in a spiritual way, and I suddenly experienced an epiphany. I realized that not everything needs to be seen to be understood, or to have faith that it exists somewhere. I cannot see any of the great Gods of the world, except as man himself has presented them, and I have no way in reality if any of those things are actually those Gods or not. I guess that would be a belief that Gods are those representations of Gods that existed in their times and places in the universe. But the reality is that if I am accepting any of them appearing as man presents them, then I am believing and trusting man and not the Gods themselves. But if I feel in my heart and soul that there are Gods, have always been Gods, and that I, and everything that exists in this world is sacred, and that we too are aspects of God, then that is faith.
And so this tree in the piece has places where you cannot see the branches, but it has places where you can see the branches. Is this tree then a belief, or is it perhaps faith?
I know you cannot see the whole quilt, and I would like you to be able to do that. This was made some years ago as an exchange quilt. We each send a package of fabrics we want to have in our quilt, and the other person does the same. A middle person handles all the fabrics, sending them to different people, and the quilt we make for this unknown person will be returned to them when we are done and all the pieces have been collected by that middle person.
We all have a dual nature, and we generally take on one or the other each day. Just as we have day and night, cold and warm, floods and droughts, love and hate, success and failure, so we can choose to be one personality or the other.
I always love this quote from the book, Advice from a Failure, by Jo Coudert. “Of all the people you will know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never leave nor lose. To the question of your life, you are the only answer. To the problems of your life, you are the only solution.”
The life of a child is magical. It is almost unbelievable that something that starts with an egg and a sperm can grow into something so complex and full of so much potential. They are sacred.
I have worked with children for more than 15 years as a substitute paraeducator, instructional aide, and teacher in various California districts. These days have been some of the best days of my life. Every time I get a new child or a classroom full of children I feel as though life is giving me the best gifts a person can receive. My children have been all ages of special needs – physically, developmentally or emotionally challenged, or a combination of any of those things. But I use the word “challenged” instead of disabled because disabled suggest that a person is unable to do things, which is far from true, even in the most severe cases. With consistent assistance, the children CAN learn at some level.
In one of my classrooms as a paraeducator, I served as a one-on-one for a little boy who was autistic and nonverbal, and he had braces on his ankles and feet. He also had to have special liquid frequently to help with his digestion. Although he had these challenges, he was generally cheerful and seemed to have a good sense of his own abilities. The only area that was a challenge was when the children went outside for their exercise.
The braces made it difficult for him to walk very fast at all, and running seemed out of the question when the aides would play a sort of baseball with a big rubber ball and “bases” leading to the home plate. They would throw the ball and the children would run from base to base, trying to get a home run. The little boy I had charge of seemed to see this as a time to “watch” as the other children ran. When his turn came up, he would stand watching, but not try to move forward. This day I took his hand, held it tight, and encouraged him to keep going. We managed to get through all the bases, and at last made a home run. We had two more turns, and each time I held his hand tightly, encouraging him all the way.
Soon we were sitting in the grass resting as the game was over. I turned to him and told him “Wow! We made three home runs!” Suddenly he grabbed me around the neck with both arms and began to hug me until we both fell over. I knew it meant he was so happy because he sensed his victory.
I will never forget that day. As he got into the car and his dad began to drive him home, he reached out with both arms and threw kisses at me. I will always have a smile in my heart when I think of that child.