Nora Lucy Mowbray Cundell, “The Patchwork Quilt”, 1919
As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.
I heard someone say the other day that Amish women leave their finished quilts imperfect, and that they do this purposely, so as not to commit blasphemy.
We hear lots of things. And like with most of what we hear, whether this or that is true or not, we quite often just don’t know—at least not in terms of earthly circumstance: what exactly was said, who exactly said it, or the exact context in which it was said. But also quite often, these factors simply don’t matter—at least not in terms of what we most need spiritually at that present moment.
To get caught up within the trivial details of who, what, where, and when is to lose a beautiful opportunity to receive correction, direction, encouragement, and inspiration. It is to miss a moment of grace.
God is always speaking to us. Always instructing. Always telling us what we need to hear. Even if His speech takes the form of a simple smile, or a simple piece of Amish lore. He is always right there with us, each one of us. One God. Three Persons. One clear, consistent, perfectly unified voice, continually encouraging us forward.
To me this is a beautiful case of the left hand knowing exactly what the right hand is doing. It is prophecy in real time. Moment by moment. Step by step. Stich by stich. Incremental inspiration. All toward a beautiful, comforting blanket composed entirely of grace. It is the Holy Spirit at work. It is Holy Spirit teaching.
We always get exactly what we need. But we must be willing to wear fleeces white as snow. For everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.
Clean hands. Pure heart. Purity of intention.
Meekness. Humility. Docility to the Holy Spirit.
We must submit to Mother Church.
It is Simple. It is Holy. And Holy Simplicity simply results in simple, clear, straightforward answers.
And it gets simpler and simpler:
We simply hear what God says when we pray in the Holy Spirit and “worship in spirit and truth”. (John 4:24)
We simply become living, breathing manifestations of His glory when the Holy Spirit prays for and through us, when “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words“. (Romans 8:26)
And the Liturgy simply helps us to allow the Holy Spirit to do so.
For the Amish women don’t sew alone. God quilts too. His is simply perfect. Always. And to us it looks a lot like the Liturgy.
O the simple joy of being wrapped up tightly within it!
O the simple wonder of walking deeper into the Body of Christ each new day—into the greatest and most public prayer of the one, true, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church—The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—with faith and hope and an ever-increasing expectation that we will “nurse“, “be satisfied” and “drink with delight” at the “abundant breasts” of Mother Church. (Isaiah 66:11)
We receive the comforting milk of Sacrament: of reconciliation, of sacrifice, of thanksgiving, of praise, of presence, of joy, of love…
We receive our physical nourishment, our spiritual inspiration, our mercy and forgiveness, our healing and peace, our much needed correction and instruction—and for breakfast and dessert—our daily share in The Cross.
We receive “our daily bread.”
And all are welcome.
The Church invites all, serves all, prays for all…
All of us—me, you, him, her, them, every single one of us—the entire patchwork of humanity—are always welcomed and always encouraged to turn more directly into the light of God’s face. The Face of Truth, of Mercy, of Justice, of Love…
All are always and truly welcome.
Welcome to walk in the clear, crisp, clean air of God’s ceaseless and abundant reality—a reality that never deceives, that never falsely promises imaginary pots of gold lying at the end of fanciful rainbows.
For rainbows are mere optical illusions. And all sin stems from and leads to delusion. Pure faith, on the other hand, rises above all images, whether they are real or those conjured up by Satan in his constant effort to pervert and deceive.
God’s promises are true. His kingdom is no illusion. Heaven is no empty pot of gold.
“…for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin you bestow eternal gladness.” (Collect, 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, C)
All are welcome to truly come home.
Welcome to walk hand-in-hand with the Lord of the Garden:
“Wash, and be cleansed; remove the foulness of your actions from my sight.
Come, let us speak with one another, says the Lord.”
Perhaps then our Amish lady friends have a good, sharp point. Maybe it is not that important to have things “just right”, exactly the way we will them to be. Maybe it is not about making everything “perfect” according to our own plans, nor about appeasing our every desire and inordinate appetite. Maybe, just maybe, happiness—true joy—resides in just the opposite.
Perhaps what makes a quilt simply “perfect” is that it is made with humble, patient, obedient hands. Grateful hands, quite aware of their own defects. Hands that need not be in constant control, nor constantly caressed.
And perhaps it is just those kinds of hands, the hands of poor humble handmaids, that simply remind us of the true purpose of a simple quilt—to keep us warm—warm enough to get us through—to get us through to the other side—to the other side of a long, dark, cold night.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.