March 16, 2008

A Mystery

Today is the Sunday of Palms and Passion, and we covered the Communion Table with a quilt I made. It was made as a “mystery: quilt – more on that to follow.

The quilt is green and rose and purplish-maroon. I find even its colors to be a mystery – I, who am so fond of yellow and blue. And yet these colors are of my choosing, or perhaps they are colors that somehow chose me. Out of a thousand bolts of cloth, these were the ones that seemed to be right, these hand-dyed and batiked fabrics.

But as mysterious as the color choice was, it is not the colors that have given the quilt its mystery; it is its construction. Each month at my quilting group, we received an envelope with a set of directions. The first month, we were instructed to buy some yards of dark fabric and some of light fabric and some of contrasting colors, and I bought the green and purple and rose. The second month, I cut this mysterious cloth into strips and squares and sewed some of the pieces together. The third month, I cut some of these pieces into triangles and sewed them to some of the strips. Month by month, piece by piece, the quilt came together, but its overall design was a mystery until the end.

When the quilt was done, I found that it was the Garden. The green fabric, dotted with bright crimson blots, seemed to be the grass splashed now with sweat that had become like great drops of blood falling to the ground; the maroon batik with tropical leaves was, in truth, palm branches, trampled and discarded and broken in pieces; the rose-colored fabric with artist-like strokes seemed to be the Holy Spirit brushing over all. And when I saw the mystery being revealed, I stitched the whole with designs of crowns of thorns and crosses, piercing the fabric through with my needle.

The quilt is long-since finished, and yet the mystery remains. This Gethsemane quilt is a parable in cloth of the mystery of faith. The quilt is created by a pattern, a design that is careful and complete – and not of my own devising. The instructions are given, bit by bit, and patience is required to wait, to finish each step, to sit with the unknowness of this mysterious process.

This is the essence of Gethsemane, of the garden. It is experienced as a mystery, shaped by the hand of the Creator, with the full design of its meaning only revealed in the fullness of time. It is a place, a time, filled with unknowness, unknowing, pierced by the very threads that hold it together.

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