Over and over again, God has patiently pointed out to me that what is on the surface is not really all there is...In fact, the surface barely defines what is underneath. But being too human and far less spirit filled than I'd like to be most days, I tend to look at the appearance of a person or a situation and begin to make assumptions. It has proven detrimental on more than one occasion.
There are people whom I wouldn't have stood near in a well lit room much less a dark alley, who were so kind and so full of the right love of God, that I was humbled to tears and remorse. There are people I've met who appeared to be dull and...well...stupid...whom I found to be full of knowledge born of many years of study and not always off the written page. Sometimes I just plain don't like someone, for no reason I can pin down and later I find them so nearly a kindred spirit that I am shocked it had taken so long to recognize them.
All of these thoughts today began with this quilt. 50 years ago this quilt did not look like this. It was covered with an ugly olive green fabric that had pimento stuffed olive lozenge shapes all over it. It was a very very ugly quilt. So ugly that Mama didn't mind if we dragged it outside to lie on in summer when we wanted to tan, nor care when we forgot it and it got rained on.
After years of abuse, I tossed the quilt on my bed one cold night and noticed the fabric had rotted and torn a little. And being a curious sort, I poked at the tear until it was a little larger...And that's when I saw the first bit of colorful fabric. I pulled out this old quilt.
Hand stitched from a variety of old fabrics worn soft and smooth as only really old cotton can feel. Some flannel and some satin, some chambray and plaids from what once must have been work shirts, but mostly bright pretty cottons, bits leftover after dresses and blouses and curtains and table cloths and such had been made. Had it been of finer materials, I'd have called it a Victorian crazy patch quilt, but it's just plain humble but oh so bright cottons for the most part and every piece (or very nearly) is just a random shaped piece of scrap.
Even at 13, I could see that this quilt had history all sewn up in it. I was curious about it. Whose quilt was it? Who made it? Who wore the clothing made from each piece of that fabric? What happened while that particular dress or shirt was being worn, what scene took place as that curtain ruffled in a breeze? Who sat long hours sewing each one of those pieces together to form this quilt? Who wanted to experiment with patterns, but obviously felt the necessity of completing the quilt was far more important? Who was thankful for it's great warmth and weight on a cold frosty night? Who snuggled into it and cried or went to sleep under it and dreamed the most pleasant of dreams?
And most important of all, who had decided that the quilt was no longer useful or pretty or even wanted and so had covered it with that goshawful ugly fabric?
When I was hurt and weary and burdened, or sick and needing to feel comforted, this quilt provided that. When I was cold it covered my bed. Did the person who made this quilt realize that an unknown relative would cherish this quilt 100 years later...or thereabouts?
I've spent a lot of years with this quilt and every time I look at it, I find a new fabric I've not noticed before. It's taken time to know it as well as I do. When I find myself making snap decisions about people these days, I try to remember this quilt and the part of it's history I do know. How the beauty of it was hidden for so many years. How I abused it before I knew how much value it had. How I never once guessed that something so worthwhile was hiding under that ugly old covering. How hidden the real treasure was...