Not knowing the magnitude of the coming rains the day of Nashville’s 2010 May flood, a friend and I went on a field trip of sorts. (Field trips aren’t just for school kids.) She had driven to our house in the country for lunch and I suggested we go to a nearby quilt show.
I grew up with grandmothers who sewed but one in particular who I remember periodically quilting. She suspended her quilts from a frame in the middle of the living room floor. I recall the magic and safety of sitting under one of those quilts as it hung suspended like the starry heavens overhead as she stitched above me.
At the show, my friend and I oohed and ahhed struck not only by the beautiful fabrics and patterns but the intricate stitching that held each quilt together. Threads visible upon a closer look spiraled and curled with extravagance. Not being bold and colorful, these stitches were easy to miss unless one stopped to really see and be with each quilt.
I walked the aisles created by hanging quilts in the exhibit hall aware these works of art and heart would in two weekends be replaced by guns, yes guns, as the building we were in would be house a gun show.
I quietly walked and wondered, contemplating the symbols of quilts and guns. Both, I realized, are connected through love. I thought of the millions of quilts stitched by the caring hands of women over time desiring to protect loved ones from the cold and the guns held in the hands of men desiring also to protect loved ones from perceived harm. I walked and pondered the metaphor of patterns. Our personal patterns sewn together make up a life and when combined create the larger patterns of community, culture and society.
One of the scheduled events of the day was a quilt turning. Neither my friend nor I had seen a turning so we decided to watch. Decades old quilts neatly stacked on an antique bed were held up one at a time by two women as a third woman described the origins and pattern of the quilt shown. The quilt was then turned down at the foot of the bed as another was held for viewing.
Four or five quilts into the turning the potential high winds and rain were announced. Being nearly two hours east of Nashville, we didn’t yet have rain but we parted. I took my friend home then worked in the yard and considered returning to the show before finally turning on the tv.
The first image I recall is etched on many minds I suspect for there floating by a Nashville interstate was a portable school building with cars and trucks bumper to bumper in rushing water.
I sat in shock and disbelief watching the city I live in and love inundated with rain. I sat listening to the commentator yet in my head I heard these words that were not mine. I heard, “We are bearing witness to the turning of the quilt of time.”
I didn’t know where this came from nor what it really meant but I knew I had been given a truth.
Two years have passed since I began contemplating patterns and heard the above statement. In that time, I’ve been a Watcher, one of the many today similar to the women who stood on either side of the bed holding up quilts of personal and societal patterns for those who will to see including myself.
As with any crisis no matter the size, opportunities abound for the disrupting of entrenched patterns and the rising/piecing together of new patterns. In the flood crisis, Nashvillians were exemplary in this regard. People reached across the divides of zip codes, color, gender preference and religion. Our one-ness was amazing and our one-ness was felt as patterns related to competition, control, detachment and isolation were replaced by compassion and connection.
Since Nashville’s flood, there have continued to be crises especially of the environmental type. From Japan’s tsunami and flooding all along the Mississippi and New England to the tornadoes destroying homes and killing many North, East, South and West of us and even recently wiping out a rural town. Nature has continued to bring challenges.
Does Nature know we've this pattern of easily forgetting we are more alike than different? Does Nature know we need to be reminded of the pattern of love we hold within? In crisis we remember patterns that are ever present in the heart yet have been forgotten over time and stay buried midst our busy lives.
Politically on the other hand, things could not seem more divisive. Muslims, immigrants, women, organic farms, wolves, the Arctic, Mother Earth and just about everything related to Nature and democracy seem to be under attack primarily by systems run by men (and women who act like men) with monetary influence and entrenched power.
Those following the patterns of the patriarchy are participants in trying to maintain the hold of the patriarchal patterns of competition, control and dominance. Most of us have participated in this pattern's conveniences and benefits. These patterns though have also contributed to toxins, chemicals, cancers and stresses unimagined by prior generations. These patterns have contributed to the exploitation and rape of Mother Earth, women and children, the exploitation of the poor, the people and land of Africa and many Asian countries.
Ironically those at home at least on the attack would say they are under attack. They live in fear of their guns being taken, their children wanting to live with someone of the same sex or have an abortion and their money being taken. Their attitude is “I made it so I deserve it all” and “If any one comes to take what’s mine I will attack.” They live in fear of communism so much so that it’s nearly impossible to have a dialogue about taking care of the poor or the environment without being called a communist.
As I reflect on the words I heard in May 2010, “We are bearing witness to the turning of the quilt of time” I now see these struggles as symptoms of the turning of the quilt of time.
We have before us the quilt of these Turning Times. Let's thank Mother Earth for being the exhibit hall that holds the display of our many patterns and ask her forgiveness. I ask forgiveness for my unconsciousness and ignoring. Let's honor the male souls who came to Earth and took on the karma of the wounded masculine, especially men in power married to the patriarchy who have caused such damage and pain. Let's honor women who have held patterns of fear and apprehension causing us to not act and take risks or when we do the risks are measured.
Let's lay to rest at the foot of Time's bed the quilt of these dying feminine and masculine patterns within us and between us.
Then let us sit down around a frame like my grandmother had and begin the piecing of new patterns in peace, welcoming the quilt of living and loving from patterns of greater awareness, compassion, understanding and feeling, the quilt where patterns are sewn with threads of love stitched side by side.
Just as I felt the security of sitting under my grandmother’s quilt like it was the sky above me, we live under the starry heavens quilted with constellations, the moon and sun. Like the field trip that started this story, life on earth is a field trip from the stars as we experience the field of love in physical form.
We are the quilters. We each hold the threads in this the turning of the Quilt of Time.
-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 4 May 2012
!!! Wanting a Saturday road trip? Check out the Quilt Show in Sparta, TN 90 miles East of Nashville on I-40 just off Hwy. 111 at the White County Fairgrounds.And coming to the Frist Museum May 25th "The Quilts of Gee's Bend," a show you do not want to miss!!