60. Sing, Sing a Song

Lattice

Here’s the 59th block out of 96 in the Bible Sampler Quilt. Somehow I messed up with numbering my blogposts. I began this project by numbering the ones that included the blocks. This post should match, and therefore be 59 instead of 60. Oh well, I will choose to take advice from the song, and let it go.

Speaking of songs, it happened to me yet again while reading the Bible. A song, long forgotten, popped into my head and replayed itself with every note and word recalled from the old memory banks. Thank you, memory banks. The song I refer to now is taken from today’s passage of scripture word for word. Isn’t this phrase just perfect?

“Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away”.

It already has the lilting meter and rhythmic cadence built right in.

“For lo, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land . . .”

The song could have written itself. And I so appreciate it when composers stick to the scripture word for word. I have been able to memorize much more of the Bible than I would have otherwise; thanks to the people who set scripture to song.

https://youtu.be/XEmTnEyh-0w

And here is that song, thank you You tube. I sang it in a women’s ensemble at my university back in the seventies, so of course my voice is lost to the ages. Actually, I probably have the album or a cassette we recorded in a dusty box in a closet, so yeah, I t is as good as lost to the ages.

I hope you take a moment to give it a listen. Music calms our souls and draws our hearts, in this case, to love.

And, as yet another song reminds us, all you need is love.

59. A Rose by Any Other Name

Rosebud Patchwork

I really like this block because it’s so bright and fresh. I could see myself making an entire quilt of these blocks, except for one thing. The stem connects to the leaves and the flower with Y seams. You know how I feel about Y seams.

“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys” (verse 1). This name has always intrigued me. Didn’t we all read The Grapes of Wrath for high school English class? That book was the first exposure I had to names composed of more than one word. My classmates were mostly called Kathy, Debbie, Cindy, Linda, and Steve, Mike, Bob, and Bill. I kid you not. Girls mostly got two syllables and boys made do with only one. Anyways, when we completed the book, we got to watch the movie. I looked forward to hearing the Joads say their daughter’s exquisite name out loud. I took comfort in the fact that this poor girl, enduring such a hard scrabble life, at least was blessed with a beautiful name. I was shocked and disappointed to hear “Rosasharn” come out of their mouths instead. Oh well. It happened to me again with Jane Eyre. I recently reread this classic via audiobook. Who would guess that Sanjin was really “Saint John”?

I live in Southern California. In general, it’s got a lot of advantages. However, it does have its disadvantages as well. Here are a few:

Pros

1. Weather – like Mary Poppins; practically perfect in every way.

2. Culture – access to many progressive, diverse, authentic experiences from many cultures

3. Gardening – you can grow foods and flowers all year round.

Cons

1. Weather – you don’t get a break, like a snow day, a reason to rest, stay inside, and relax guilt-free.

2. Culture – sometimes living in a progressive environment isn’t my kind of progress.

3. Gardening – You cannot grow Rose of Sharon bushes.

This last con is a bummer. I first saw Rose of Sharon bushes at my uncle’s house in Indiana. He sent me home with an envelope full of seeds that we gathered from the flowers. I was so excited to bring a special connection of faraway family back with me to my own yard. As a scrappy quilter, it’s no surprise that I’m a scrappy gardener too. I call my spaces my friendship gardens, and the majority of them are truly made up of cuttings and seeds from others.

,My pitiful little Rose of Sharon bushes. They have been struggling along, clinging to life in sunny California paradise. I don’t think they’re going to survive the mildest weather zone in the nation.

Come to think of it, we can’t grow lily of the valley around here either. Both flowers the Shulammite bride uses to describe herself are no shrinking violets in the flower kingdom. I suppose they require tougher handling from Mother Nature in order to thrive. There’s probably a metaphor I could point out here, referring to the self-confident and beautiful wife of King Solomon. But quite frankly, I will confess that the songs of Solomon, like inclement weather, make me a tad uncomfortable. Go ahead and consider me a shrinking violet; because when it comes to the Song of Songs, I’ll leave the drawing of the metaphors to you.

58. Fruits of our Labors

Charm block

The last two sentences in Proverbs:

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

Like I said in my last post, we own this one, ladies. We are makers, and we do not “eat the bread of idleness” (verse 27). We prefer to keep our hands busy, we can actually focus on others and attend to conversations more easily if we are stitching away at the same time. We were kinesthetic learners in school. Call us anything but idle.

Today I didn’t stitch, but I did do this:Pomegranate jam. Yep. My friend, a sister from another mother, came over and we knocked these out in a few hours. We had picked and juiced my pomegranates last Saturday.

And just in time, because these guys showed up. See those little black dots on the skin of the pom? That’s where they stuck their sharp little proboscises into the seeds and de-juiced them one by one. Sorry guys, party’s over.

57. Owning It

Snowflake

My usual thinking process works like this: I observe someone’s accomplishments, and I remind myself that I am less than. I confess that I struggle to publish these blogposts because of this comparison thing that I’ve got going on. The internet is brimming with brilliance, bigger, better, (what’s another”b” word?) . . . so what in the world am I doing here?

I love making these blocks so much, and it is an incredible experience reading along in the Bible from cover to cover, and I just have to tell somebody. So that’s why I’m here.

I attribute my mindset to a lifetime of peer group conditioning. My elementary school education in my very ordinary neighborhood had a huge role. The school was average (I can say this as an educator myself), but the clientele was exceptional. And living in the stable little neighborhood that we were, I was with this peer group all through junior high and high school, many even through college. I sat next to students who would later become astronauts, mayors, school superintendents, major TV network newscasters, professional musicians, and published authors. Our playgrounds produced professional athletes too. I could continue, but you get the idea. Was it something in the water? We all shared that dribbly drinking fountain that some smart aleck would stop up with a piece of gum. Who knows?

But my point is, I saw greatness up close and personal. For example, I would work on a project, say, my fourth grade Native American tribe report. These were the days when we did all of the work ourselves, during class. There wasn’t such a thing as homework, unless you wanted to practice the spelling list for the Friday test. So I’d research and complete my work, thinking it worthy of an “A” grade. Then when it was time to share our oral reports, one of those kids would get up out of their seat, go to the front of the room, and proceed to just blow me out of the water with the depth and breadth of their presentation. They’d go further into the task with concepts that I wasn’t even aware of, and therefore that would never have occurred to me.

All this to say that I’ve grown up with a healthy understanding of my place in the crowd. I’m not at the bottom of the barrel, and I’m not anywhere near the top. I like keeping my head under the radar, safely sharing the middle space with the rest of the crowd. It’s quite comfortable here.

Well, today, I can say that I own it. At least when it comes to this passage in Proverbs. I’ve spun wool, and knitted warm things for my family. Just let these verses speak for themselves. It doesn’t say that she enters shows and brings home ribbons, so join me. Let’s compare. When it comes to fabric, we’ve got skills. We own this:

“She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. . . She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.”

56. Worth

Candleglow

The next three quilt blocks linger on the final chapter in Proverbs, the infamous chapter 31. I say “infamous” because I myself have a history with this chapter. When I was a young mother, I let Solomon’s words beat me up by pointing out my shortcomings. I was on a journey of self-improvement, with four small kids in tow. I was just starting to get established in my role, and only compared myself unfavorably to this impossible proverbs woman. But then the kids rounded me out, chilled me out, and I realized that I was doing all right. All right is A-okay, good enough. Now I love this chapter because it affirms my worth as a wife and as a mother. My price is far above rubies.

See how many of these things you’ve done over the years:

“She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchant’s ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is still night, and giveth meat to her household and a portion to her maidens . . .”

I bet you’ve done them all. I’m glad our “merchant ships” are now our minivans, and our “maidens” are our appliances. It’s much easier to keep a washer and dryer serviceable than to keep a housemaid happy. It’s actually much easier to be a proverbs woman nowadays.

For all the times Solomon warns his son about the many pitfalls regarding women, this time he describes a virtuous woman in great detail. Smart move on Solomon’s part to balance out his instruction, lest he scare his son off of marriage altogether.

55. Three Things

Spider Web

I’m paper piecing my way through Proverbs. This block was fun: no curves, nice contrast, (it’s more of a brown in real life), and best of all, more scraps got used up from the stash.

We love fabric, don’t we? Let’s play fiber trivia.

Question: What is the strongest fiber in the world?

Answer: spider silk. Specifically, that of the Darwin’s Bark Spider. (Ironic that it bears that name, eh?) This little guy spins silk up to six times stronger than high-grade steel, (per weight, of course).

This is made of spider silk. I KNOW, I had to watch a video on YouTube to see how it was done. (Photo credit: Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

https://youtu.be/aLSGBQUA8l0

King Solomon began this passage with: “There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yes, four which I do not understand . . .”

If he had had the benefit of the invention of microscopes, cameras, and so on, his list would have been a lot longer.

The better tools we have to reveal more wonders, the more we realize that there’s a whole lot more out there waiting for us to discover. Way to go, God. Of course He has created so so much amazing wonderment, we will never discover it all. It keeps life very interesting.

Spiders employ logarithms, (or is it algorithms?) when spinning their orbs. Math and I do not get along, but I know wondrous mathematical wonders when I see them.

Such as . . . nautilus shells, honeycombs, and snowflakes; three things that are all too wonderful for me.

54. Proverbs

Honeycomb

I whizzed through Proverbs. I’ve read this book many times before, so I felt that I had permission to plow straight through the familiar words of wisdom from King Solomon. Anyways, because of this whizzing, I noticed that some phrases kept repeating themselves this time through. Whether we’re meant to or not, we attach importance to repetitions. So I give you those phrases now:

The desire of a man is kindness . . .

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes. . .

And last, but not least, the multiple warnings that it is better to live in a (corner of a roof, desert, wilderness, etc., essentially anywhere else) than to share a large house with a contentious woman. He also compared vexing women to a constant dripping on a day of steady rain.

Geez, Solomon, why did you take on SO MANY wives if they could potentially be a cause of such annoyment to your majesty?

But I’d like to comment on those other statements. They work as a pair in my mind.

First up, “Every way of a man seems right in his own eyes”. He’s got that right. These days, we’ve given it a fancy term: post-modernism. But it’s nothing new. Questioning authority and testing social norms goes back to the Garden of Eden.

No matter how hard post-modernists resist, it’s true that the law is written upon their hearts. How do I know this? People may say that there are no moral absolutes, yet they subscribe to their own set of rights and wrongs. They’ve created their own absolutes, even though they say there are none. They may disagree with the law and gospel explained in the holy scriptures, but they still operate in law and gospel-like systems.

The current example that springs to my mind is the issue of climate change. First, activists put their faith in the research that reports that it is indeed at a crisis stage. Next, there is an end times prophecy. Last I heard, we’ve got twelve years left to live on this earth as we know it. Shaming and guilting regarding our personal carbon footprints is seen as a worthy pastime. There’s even a system of indulgences to pay for the sin of the aforementioned carbon footprint with carbon offset donations. But, unfortunately their gospel falls short. They cannot offer the hope that comes with the good news of ultimate forgiveness and redemption. They’re stuck under their law with no gospel to offer relief. What a burden!

Now to pair up the other repeating phrase: the desire of a man is kindness. We are all just trying to get it right as we walk through this life. We all have our belief systems, and some are more right than others. But extending patience goes a long way in the learning process. Simple acts of kindness make a difference. It can be as small as choosing to say nothing at all if I can’t say something nice on social media sites. It can be as magnificent as sharing the gospel of hope and eternal life with others. Like Martin Luther said, “I’m just a hungry beggar showing you where I found bread”. (I think he actually said, “we are beggars, this is true”.)

And like Jewel sang, “In the end, only kindness matters”.

https://youtu.be/AfsS3pIDBfw