I want to write about faith,
about the way the moon rises
over cold snow, night after night,
faithful even as it fades from fullness,
slowly becoming that last curving and impossible
slither of light before the final darkness.
But I have no faith myself
I refuse it the smallest entry.
Let this then, my small poem,
like a new moon, slender and barely open,
be the first prayer that opens me to faith.
It would perhaps be more appropriate to feature a photo of the new moon , but the point, I believe, has to do with constancy of faith, even as the moon runs through its cycles, so ANY cycle ought to do.
My apologies to David Whyte for incorrect line indentations — I guess I have more research to do on line spacing in wordpress.
NOTE: deanna7trees at “eclectic meanderings” connected me to Nancy’s blog “pomegrante trail“, where interestingly Nancy links last night’s moon with this very same poem of David Whyte’s!
The snow storm that they canceled half of school for today has not materialized. Light wet flakes are falling, but nothing sticks.
I heard a WBUR interview on ‘speaking of faith’ a while back and took notes while driving (but I don’t text, really I don’t!!). It was about language and prayer. Stephen Mitchell was one author who spoke (Roberta Bondi was another). He has translated major spiritual and literary works, including a Book of Psalms, the Tao Te Ching, letters of Rainer Maria Rilke, Gilgamesh, the Book of Job, and the Bhagavad Gita. Given that he spends his time with the most amazing of texts, I was particularly impressed that he said, ‘all great words lead to silence’.
In looking him up online, I was reminded that he is married to Byron Katie, whom I’ve mentioned before, whom I read often. In fact, he coauthored the book I consider essential, these days, to chucking some of my baggage: “Loving What Is”.
Funny how things connect, or show up, like the window and glass ball in this photograph. Without my glasses on this morning and using the auto mode of the camera, I didn’t see the reflection until I downloaded the picture. So there they are — the surprise connections — two sources of inspiration married to one another, and one frame opening up into another. Somehow, they read like signs of hope.
I have faith in simple things — the turning of the seasons, the growth that follows dormancy, that I will be fed. The self talk that went: ‘I have no faith and therefore I cannot finish a quilt on the topic’ was refreshingly updated and reframed as I worked on this piece.
fabric/paper collage photo-transferred onto fabric, collaged again
Here is the doorway image that evokes passage & transformation, for me. The lettuces tempted me to make a stupid visual pun about “lettuce pray”, but that did not quite materialize. Instead, the lettuce leaves represent fresh bounty that is simple and wholesome and nourishing.
There were other issues with finishing this little quilt. As a puruser of all kinds of craft magazines and blogs, I am disdainful of certain words that have been used to death. For a long time, I couldn’t bring myself to join the legions of crafters who insert one of THOSE words (e.g., BELIEVE, DREAM, INSPIRE) (the cynic asks, ‘how about VOMIT, DOUBT, CRUSHED HOPE’?!!). But, here is mine.
Also, after transferring a fabric/paper collage back onto fabric, quilting it, embellishing it with onion nets and fabric chips, I ‘ruined’ it with sharpie. One of the challenges was how to cover up enough of the sharpie without losing all the previous detailing.
This figure sowing seedlings, cut from a weird, upcycled (and giant) blouse, is an answer of sorts to the Journal Quilt I made where the harvesting figure on some decorator toile turned into the Grim Reaper. It took me a long time to ‘correct’ the way the bar of white from the blouse upset the design of the quilt… a little aqua sheer (also an upcycled item from a thrift store) helped. You can just see some of the yellow onion netting peeking out from under.
Also resonating with an earlier quilt (in this case, the Journal Quilt “Worm Moon”), the lower edge depicts swirls and fertile-looking circles, all busily preparing the soil for the growth that is to come. In this case, the frayed silk edges, the raw-edged applique, and rough zig-zag stitching go a long way to reference a ‘messy’, seemingly chaotic, but productive environment (SOIL!).
Below is a paper/fabric collage that has been scanned onto canvas (fed through my inkjet printer). A digital image of a village quilt (printed on paper) has been stitched to the center. I haven’t been able to figure out what to do with this and a sister scan.
A New Year begins. Can I cultivate faith? The faith that things will improve? That we all are growing, and on some sort of path? I spit so contemptuously at the pervasiveness of certain words like, “dream”, “believe”, and yes, “faith” that I am shocked to be sharing this work in progress. Perhaps I don’t finish it because of that very word. Perhaps a lack of faith keeps it (me?) undone. I used to want to be a spiritual person. Now I just want to be someone who gets things done.
Combining old and new yearnings, then, Number One Consecration for this New Year: I shall finish the two faith quilts on my board and let the exercise provoke an inquiry, maybe even a return to some sort of practice (I have learned that one does not need faith for a practice to have benefits). The sister scan below was shaping up nicely, paired with some beautiful silks, until I drew on it with sharpie and ruined it. But you know what they say — any quilt you hate is simply one that isn’t finished. (Come to think of it, what is that but a statement of faith?!)
Consecration Number Two: I have decided to join the many quilters who make weekly journal quilts. The Dec/Jan 2009 Quilting Arts Magazine features an article by Jeanne Williamson, who made weekly quilts from 1999 to 2005 (this past year, she made needle-felted quilts exclusively). My rules will be as follows (rules in italics, commentary in regular font):
1. One quilt a week, even if away. Structure is good. Finishing things needs emphasis and commitment.
2. Once begun, no starting over. Variations of the thing are soooooo tempting and to be avoided until the thing is finished (this is really just to underscore rule No. 1).
3. Materials will always include scraps from the floor. Here, I am trying to trick myself into clean up. Regularize it. Avoid making it a deal. Mess follows me around. We have a complicated relationship.
4. Quilts must be quilted, but not bound.— Alright, I’ll semi-finish things. No need to go overboard, here. Until I work out a canvas-frame-mounting system that works for me (again, I refer you to Jeanne Williamson’s blog), I am not going to worry about the edges of these little things. I loathe binding quilts.
5. Sizes need not be uniform, but will not be squares. Uniformity is too much of a challenge for me, esp. when it involves measuring. This I know and accept about my style. Even right angles are challenging for this quilter. I don’t want squares, because of their resemblance to potholders.
6. Journal Quilts must have a home. Yes, I would like to be able to find these creations at some point and I don’t want them littering my work space, annoying me. This rule probably only needs to be followed at the outset (but who wants to place bets that the home doesn’t change? Even I am willing to wager that at some point I will have no f@$%^ing clue where 1/2 dozen or more quilts are… Could I really circumvent this problem with a little proactive rule-following?! THIS would be worth knowing).
7. Monthly themes are optional. I do well with assignments. he goal is not simply to experiment. It is also to cement things that I have learned.
Consecration Number Three — If using scraps off the floor and making a place for the Journal Quilts to live don’t produce an appreciable difference in the slobbery downstairs by the Vernal Equinox, I will barter a couple of quilts for organizational services.
This is AFTER a little clean up, so I’m not kidding about the mess.