It began as a failed guitar lesson. “You’ll make a better quilter than guitar picker,” Mama Walker said after an unsuccessful lesson in guiding my six year-old fingers across wire strings and frets on her guitar. “C’mon. I’ll show you how.”
My grandmother, mom’s mother, led me to a corner of the middle room in her East Dallas shotgun-styled home. On a chair lay a pile of scrap fabrics — a mix of florals, geometrics, stripes, and calicoes.
“Pick what you like,” she waved her hand toward the material. For the next two hours, I cut 4″x4″ squares using the pattern Mama Walker fashioned from the cover of a steno pad.
“You’re done with the first step,” she commented while peering over my head and drying her hands on a dish towel thrown over her shoulder. “Time to sew blocks together. I’ll show you how.” Mama Walker motioned me to the seat of honor. The one in front of her trestle sewing machine. The machine from which aprons, bonnets, dresses, and quilts magically formed.
“This way,” she instructed. “Solids against prints. Three to a row. Then three rows to make a nine-square block. Here, you can do it.” I plopped in the chair by her sewing machine and pumped the pedal. The machine whirred to life. My confidence grew with each rise and fall of the needle to the rhythm of my foot.
“Slow down. Don’t hurry,” Mama Walker cautioned when my foot speed increased and the needle ate fabric faster than I could match seams. By dinner time I stacked enough squares at my feet to cover my twin bed. Mama Walker declared my part done. Over the next month and with hands gnarled by arthritis, she pieced my fabric blocks together, quilted the top, and finished the raw edges.
I fingered the now-worn quilt retrieved from the bottom of my quilt box. Close up, I noticed non-squared squares and uneven stitches. I eyed telltale holes where I ripped apart seams after discovering a right side sewn to a wrong side of fabric. I spied traces of knotted thread where my erratic foot rhythm on the trestle tensed the spool of twine feeding the needle.
Yet, when I looked at the quilt from across the room, mistakes disappeared. A shabby chic topper remained, its beauty in its vintage look. Its perfection in its not-so-perfectly assembled pattern. And I smile in awe of Mama Walker. How she guided my hands, stitched together my misshapen squares, and fashioned them into something useful.
Like God. Who, through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, perfected the not-so-perfectly assembled blocks of my life. The same God who still finds a way, in time, to stitch a vintage beauty out of the mistakes and knotted threads of my choices.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you….” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV)
©2013 Gloria Ashby. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail.