Stitching Broken Pieces Together

“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”

Perhaps the world was made this way:
piecemeal, the parts fitting together exactly
as if made for one another~
the unique, disparate and separate
coming together in a glorious harmony.

The point of its creation is
forever functional and full of love –
a blanket of warmth and security
for generations to come.
Our legacy is to preserve this
beauty arising from scraps,
this broken stitched to broken
in a tapestry holy and whole.

all quilts here are on display this week at the Northwest Washington Fair
see previous year’s artwork here and here and here and here

This new Barnstorming book is like a quilt made of pieces of poetry and photographs – available for order here:

Four Seasons

Autumn

Winter is an etching,
spring a watercolor,
summer an oil painting

and autumn a mosaic of them all.
~Stanley Horowitz
, a poem in Readers’ Digest Nov. 1983

Winter
Winter

L’Inverno (Winter)
Opus 8, No. 4, in F minor

I. Allegro non molto–
Frozen and trembling in the icy snow,
In the severe blast of the horrible wind,
As we run, we constantly stamp our feet,
And our teeth chatter in the cold.
II. Largo–
To spend happy and quiet days near the fire,
While, outside, the rain soaks hundreds.
III. Allegro–
We walk on the ice with slow steps,
And tread carefully, for fear of falling.
Symphony, If we go quickly, we slip and fall to the ground.
Again we run on the ice,
Until it cracks and opens.
We hear, from closed doors,
Sirocco, Boreas, and all the winds in battle.
This is winter, but it brings joy.

~Vivaldi (Winter poem)

Spring
Spring
Spring
Spring

La Primavera (Spring)
Opus 8, No. 1, in E Major

I. Allegro–
Festive Spring has arrived,
The birds salute it with their happy song.
And the brooks, caressed by little Zephyrs,
Flow with a sweet murmur.
The sky is covered with a black mantle,
And thunder, and lightning, announce a storm.
When they are silent, the birds
Return to sing their lovely song.
II. Largo e pianissimo sempre–
And in the meadow, rich with flowers,
To the sweet murmur of leaves and plants,
The goatherd sleeps, with his faithful dog at his side.
III. Danza pastorale. Allegro–
To the festive sound of pastoral bagpipes,
Dance nymphs and shepherds,
At Spring’s brilliant appearance.

~Vivaldi (Spring poem)

Summer
Summer
Summer
Summer

L’Estate (Summer)
Opus 8, No. 2, in G minor

I. Allegro non molto–
Under the heat of the burning summer sun,
Languish man and flock; the pine is parched.
The cuckoo finds its voice, and suddenly,
The turtledove and goldfinch sing.
A gentle breeze blows,
But suddenly, the north wind appears.
The shepherd weeps because, overhead,
Lies the fierce storm, and his destiny.
II. Adagio; Presto–
His tired limbs are deprived of rest
By his fear of lightning and fierce thunder,
And by furious swarms of flies and hornets.
III. Presto–
Alas, how just are his fears,
Thunder and lightening fill the Heavens, and the hail
Slices the tops of the corn and other grain.
~Vivaldi (Summer poem)

Autumn
Autumn
Autumn

Autumn
Autumn

L’Autunno (Autumn)
Opus 8, No. 3, in F Major

I. Allegro–
The peasants celebrate with dance and song,
The joy of a rich harvest.
And, full of Bacchus’s liquor,
They finish their celebration with sleep.
II. Adagio molto–
Each peasant ceases his dance and song.
The mild air gives pleasure,
And the season invites many
To enjoy a sweet slumber.
III. Allegro–
The hunters, at the break of dawn, go to the hunt.
With horns, guns, and dogs they are off,
The beast flees, and they follow its trail.
Already fearful and exhausted by the great noise,
Of guns and dogs, and wounded,
The exhausted beast tries to flee, but dies.

~Vivaldi (Autumn poem)

I walk this path to stand at the same spot
countless times through the year,
to witness the palette changing
around me.

The Artist chooses His color and technique
lovingly, with a gentle touch for each season.

My life too is painted with richness and variety:
from the bare lines of winter,
to a green emergence of spring,
a summer sweet fruitfulness
and a mosaic crescendo of autumn.

This ever-new pathway extends
beyond the reach of the canvas.


Searching a Blossom as a Loved One’s Face

Outrageous flowers as big as human
heads! They’re staggered
by their own luxuriance: I had
to prop them up with stakes and twine.


In the darkening June evening
I draw a blossom near, and bending close
search it as a woman searches
a loved one’s face.
~Jane Kenyon from “Peonies at Dusk”

There’s not a pair of legs so thin, there’s not a head so thick,
There’s not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick
But it can find some needful job that’s crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one.

Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it’s only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner In the Glory of the Garden.

Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener’s work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden that it may not pass away!
And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away !

~Rudyard Kipling from “The Glory of the Garden”

There is no better place to be than in a garden down on my knees. Humans were created for this: the naming, the turning over of the soil, the planting and nurturing, the weeding and thinning, the harvest and gratitude, and then a time of lying fallow to rest.

The garden is a place for prayer and praise.

When I meet a truly great gardener, like my friend Jean who has grown and hybridized dahlias for decades, what I see growing in the soil is a tapestry of artwork made from petals, leaves and roots. She has passionately cared for these plants and they reflect that love in every spiral and swirl, hue and gradient of color, showing stark symmetry and delightful variegation.

Arising from the plainest of homely and knobby look-alike tubers grow these luxurious beauties of infinite variety. I kneel stunned before each one, captivated, realizing that same Creator makes sure I too bloom from mere dust and then set me to work in His garden.

One Tree – A Hundred Backdrops

sunset917165

 

sunset964

 

sunset711174

 

sunset55183

 

If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.
~G.K. Chesterton

 

raincoming7

 

sunset82014

 

sunset329162

 

sunset55181

 

sunset711171

 

sunset15182

 

 

 

Most evenings there is no sunset fanfare, no departing glowing orb on the horizon, no color spreading upward into the clouds.  The typical evening canvas is just grey and ordinary at dusk, transitioning to twilight, giving into nightfall.

Grey–>darkergrey–>black.

Yet there are times not at all ordinary.  On those evenings, the Master reaches deep for his palette and starts mixing.  As He begins His work,  grey gradually gives way to amber and orange, shifting to red and purple and yellow.   A daub here, a speckle there, then full out splash and streak.  The backdrop is never the same night after night.  He takes creative license with His creation.

We are invited to pick up a brush and apprentice for Him, learning the sweep of the hand, the grace of the wrist stroke, the fine work of the brush tip outlining the black of darkening shadows.

There can be no wrong color combination; anything goes.  It is a riveting gift of extraordinary artwork: it is meant to be shared, to be taught, to be cherished even if only for a few brief minutes.

When the sky glows like unfolding rose petals, all will see it; this work won’t be hidden away in a gallery or museum.

All too soon it moves on, the canvas plain and dark once again.  And we’re left holding the brush, eager and ready to try again when the timing is right.

 

sunset917166

 

sunset1224145

 

sunsettexture

 

spotlight

 

sunset217142

 

sunset17163

 

sunset1513

 

There is no way in which a man can earn a star or deserve a sunset.
~G.K. Chesterton

 

evening52918

 

sunset21615iphone

 

IMG_0880

 

sunset330141

 

sunset112315

 

sunset917162

 

sunset113171

 

 

An Abstract Expressionist

creeper1016

 

creeper2015

 

creepergarage

 

A full year passed (the seasons keep me honest)
since I last noticed this same commotion.   
Who knew God was an abstract expressionist?
I’m asking myself—the very question   
I asked last year, staring out at this array   

of racing colors-the out-of-control Virginia creeper   

my friends say I should do something about,
whose vermilion went at least a full shade deeper…
~Jacqueline Osherow from “Autumn Psalm”
creeperwall
creepergarage2
It gets out of hand — the Virginia Creeper — traveling surreptitiously from one building to the next, up trees and poles and down holes.  We don’t know every place it has gone until it turns crimson in October, shouting loudly in technicolor from the most hidden spots.  It cannot hide.
Our efforts at creeper control are meager in comparison to the Artist’s effort to brighten our world on a sullen autumn morning. What is stripped away one year reappears reinvigorated somewhere else.
The farm has become gallery, the buildings and grounds a canvas, the Artist busy painting free-form, and the audience, (yes those of us with eyes to see), stand breathless as mere witness.
creepermaple
creeper1014

The Potter’s Clay

mashikopottery

Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8

So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Jeremiah 18:3-4

The best pottery is never perfect, becoming an original handmade and unique piece, infused with the potter’s eye and energy, the pressure of fingers and palm, a design coming from the heart of the potter.

I had the joy this morning of virtually revisiting a special place in Japan that is a potter’s paradise, Mashiko village, thanks to a website by artist and art teacher Bette Vander Haak. The Vander Haaks took us there in 2012, and I was too overwhelmed by so many choices and pieces that I could not decide on a single one to bring home.  Thankfully, Brian and Bette have picked out pieces for us over the years, such as our fruit bowl, that are so much a part of our household, that I forget they came from the hands of an artist half-way around the world.

We are the clay formed and shaped to become something that has a purpose and plan,  and even with imperfections, we are something incredibly beautiful.  As the work of hands that make no mistake, we know there is good reason for our flaws.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=191&v=QLYivjLbWxg

horsehairvase
a handmade piece by Bette Vander Haak and daughter Emily Dieleman

Stable Harmony

dandydrizzle

1904172_598840872414_1512230259_n
photo of snow storm in Tokyo by Nate Gibson

…the artist has merely to be more keenly aware than others
of the harmony of the world,
of the beauty and ugliness of the human contribution to it,
and to communicate this acutely to his fellow-men.
And in misfortune,
and even at the depths of existence –
in destitution, in prison, in sickness –
his sense of stable harmony never deserts him.

~Alexandr Solzhenitsyn in his Nobel Speech contemplating Dostoevsky’s statement “Beauty will save the World”

treesteps
armedangerous

bench2

Rosy Sunsets

photo by Nate Gibson

If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.
G.K. Chesterton

Most evenings there is no sunset fanfare, no departing glowing orb on the horizon, no color spreading upward into the clouds.  The typical evening canvas is just grey and ordinary at dusk, transitioning to twilight, giving into nightfall. Grey-darkergrey-black.

Yet there are times not at all ordinary.  On those evenings, the Master reaches deep for his palette and starts mixing.  As He begins His work,  grey gradually gives way to amber and orange, shifting to red and purple and yellow.   A daub here, a speckle there, then full out splash and streak.  We are invited to pick up a brush and apprentice for Him, learning the sweep of the hand, the grace of the wrist stroke, the fine work of the brush tip outlining the black of darkening shadows.

There can be no wrong color combination; anything goes.  It is a riveting gift of extraordinary artwork: it is meant to be shared, to be taught, to be cherished even if only for a few brief minutes.

When the sky glows with unfolding rose petals, all will see it; this work won’t be hidden away in a gallery or museum.

All too soon it moves on, the canvas plain and dark once again.  And we’re left holding the brush, eager and ready to try again when the timing is right.

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson

photo by Nate Gibson