In Little Rock, I happened upon an extraordinary exhibit, A Piece of my Soul. It contained quilts created by black women of Arkansas. In a room with walls covered in quilts made from leftover pieces of fabric, I sat on a repurposed church pew and watched a video of black women telling how sewing quilts had been a means to share and transform their lives.
Although the quilt tops were made by individuals, they were finished by groups of women who quilted them in community, continuing their story telling as they completed the quilt.
The women interviewed recounted a time when their people were too poor to buy ready made quilts, and so they used bits of fabric they had on hand to create something beautiful to keep their loved ones warm.
I was particularly moved by these women and their quilts made from what others might discard or thought waste because of a poem I had read that very morning. It was I Will Keep Broken Things by Alice Walker. Among the lines of the poem were these:
I will keep
In my house
A quilt that most held my attention was a pattern called Broken Dishes. It was finished by
Dorothy Lambert White in the 1950’s. Scraps of color as pieces of discarded pottery: the art of the quilt was full of life and joy and order in what could have been chaos and disappointment.
This is what God does. Takes the broken bits and the scraps of our lives. Fits them together with love and forgiveness. Finishes them through the love of community. Creates beauty and comfort. Through it all tells the stories of the deepest parts of our souls.