My Great Quilt of Witnesses

We have no power in our house tonight. 

The outside is blizzarding and it seems good and well to all to stay inside. 

In the glow of candlelight and phone screens my husband and I are doing the rounds of checking in, turning off lights that aren’t light, and hauling our oldest out of the tub where he’s reading in quiet murk by book light. 

My lot is to creep into the rooms of the youngers and make sure they are warm enough. My daughter who, like her father, is a furnace and my son who has never had a spare ounce of insulating flesh in his life. As I try to creep and don’t succeed because of Lego and Polly Pockets I reach into the tops of their closets for the extra blankets. 

Extra blankets are an essential in our house. To my husband they represent provision. The ability for, on nights such as this to provide warmth for whoever in whatever numbers may be under our roof. 

The blankets are essential for me too but they represent something different. 

As I reach up into the top of my daughter’s closet I pull down memories. Sunbonnet quilts hand sewn by my great aunt, a woman lauded for her kindness, the woman my mother is named after. My daughter shares their name. An afghan knitted for me by my grandmother no longer with us and another crocheted for me by my oldest sister when I was a child. I pause, but no, it’s not quite cold enough to add the wedding bedspread in all its white weighted-ness that was knitted for my husband and I by my mother’s sister.  

My son becomes loaded up with baby quilts sewn by community women, layered and overlapped over each other. 

As I handle these blankets, feel their familiar textures, I am flooded with the feeling of provision. In the gift of these blankets people who love and loved me have crafted warmth and care around me and around my children. 

These layers of generational love for me and my children they may not have met is a witness to me of how not only physically but emotionally we provide for each other. I share the stories of these women with my children. Their stories of faith and kindness and laughter. This testimony of personhood that my children can hear of and be surrounded by as they cuddle up in the warmth. 

“Therefore, as we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything  that hinders and sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us.” Hebrews 12:1

The reassurance of those who came before me is warmth and strength to me. Knowing that there were others who have gone before and bear witness to God’s timeless work in our lives. That in telling their stores not only do we remember them but my children hear the testimony of God in life back beyond their memory but not beyond story. 

I am so grateful for those who have gone before in strength and courage and faith. And that they cared for and remembered me. And I wonder what they thought of the generations that would come. Did they wonder if the the care of their time and handiwork would warm those in the future? Did they wonder if they would be remembered?

They are. And their stories weave in with mine and ours. 

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4 thoughts on “My Great Quilt of Witnesses

  1. What a beautiful story! Handmade quilts are works of art that don’t keep us warm unless we take them off the wall and use them. My mother was a saver. There is a beautiful quilt in my sister’s closet that was made by Mom’s sisters for Mom and Dad’s 40th wedding anniversary. It has never been used.The wedding quilt that my aunts made for me was used on our bed until it was almost in tatters, and then it was a favourite “rec room” blanket for the kids.I think I finally threw it out a couple of years ago. It provided warmth for many years. I have written a few articles about using the good dishes and the warm quilts and wearing your favourite clothes. Using things often means they will wear out. I think that is okay, and it sounds like you would agree.

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