Piecing Together the Scraps




“I make them warm to keep my family from freezing;
I make them beautiful to keep my heart from breaking.”
–From the journal of a prairie woman, 1870
To keep a husband and five children warm,
she quilts them covers thick as drifts against
the door. Through every fleshy square white threads
needle their almost invisible tracks; her hours
count each small suture that holds together
the raw-cut, uncolored edges of her life.
She pieces each one beautiful, and summer bright
to thaw her frozen soul. Under her fingers
the scraps grow to green birds and purple
improbable leaves; deeper than calico, her mid-winter
mind bursts into flowers. She watches them unfold
between the double stars, the wedding rings.
~Luci Shaw “Quiltmaker”
It could be the world was made this way:
piecemeal, the parts fitting together
as if made for one another~
disparate and separate
coming together in harmony.
The point of its creation
to be forever functional,
a blanket of warmth and security
but its result is so much more:
beauty arising from scraps,
the broken stitched to broken
to become holy and whole.
(all quilts here are on display this week at the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden)

6 thoughts on “Piecing Together the Scraps

  1. I have long loved this poem by Luci Shaw, inspired by the prairie woman’s poignant words. Over a decade ago, my own mother sewed together stacks of carefully selected and cut fabrics in the shape of triangles. She sewed them between muslin triangles–three lap quilts, one for each of her children–and another for my father–while she spent hours at his side during his years battling cancer. She titled the quilts “Mountain Peaks” in reference to the many mountain climbs she and my father made at Glacier National Park. She said this season of cancer was their greatest climb. My conclusion is that finishing the “climb” of our own life with faith, hope, and love for God and others is the end goal of “the climb”.


  2. “…the parts fitting together as if made for one another …coming together in harmony…. ”

    For me, Emily, your lovely thoughts have a corollary to the Scripture accounts of what The Potter does in taking disparate, separate shards of broken pottery and recasting them into something that becomes whole, beautiful, useful — as was The Potter’s intended purpose when He molded it into existence.

    I am reminded also of two examples of the brokenness that we see all around us today:

    – The Church (entire Body of Christian believers) – a ‘QUILT’ in disrepair that needs mending. It has been infiltrated by the seductive ideologies of relativism, humanism, and syncretism — isms that are antithetical to New Testament teachings that are causing it to shred and to fall apart due to resulting infighting and loss of unity at a time in our history when we face almost insurmountable trials and dangers.

    – As a society, we have fractured and spiraled into disarray those whom many consider ‘the other’ – a class/caste system that denies their equal humanity, blindly refuses to see their worth and their potential and, instead, rigidly defines them in terms of race, color, poverty, gender, educational attainment, among other damning labels. In doing so we fail to recognize their inherent status as God’s creation, equally loved and valued by Him. He does not differentiate among His Creation. ALL belong in The QUILT.

    So then, what began as an idea in the Creator’s mind — as pieces of cloth chosen, cut, sewed together with love and pride — became one sanctified QUILT that will eventually become a lasting treasure until the fullness of His Kingdom is complete.


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