It started as an idea one year ago when I was wandering through the loud and colorful market stalls in Musanze. So many patterns and bright fabrics, yet I had no idea what to do with all of them. Remembering the yards of fabric still at home from my first journey here, I decided these fabrics must have a purpose. Thus came my idea to make a quilt – to turn these long neglected yards of cloth into something beautiful. I have been babysitting my sister’s sewing machine since she left for Germany four years ago and it has been ignored for the most part, just like the colorful fabrics. When I returned from Rwanda, the new fabrics joined the old and the sewing machine remained untouched.
Life got busy immediately, things at PATH picked up, there were rumblings of a tour for the band and Kristi got married. In January I left PATH and decided to pursue music wholeheartedly and return to work at my favorite place in the world, Nielsen’s Pastries. The fabrics remained in their hiding place until I returned home from the Friends and Family tour and I was soon told that the band would be breaking up. There was a lot of heartache and pain in this news, but mostly an overwhelming feeling of failure. Failure to accomplish all I’d wanted and failure in my fear to start something new. That day when I saw the colorful fabrics poking out from their basket, I knew it was time to begin.
In part, it was the words of a Rilke poem that inspired me: She who reconciles the ill-matched threads of her life and weaves them gratefully into a single cloth. I think this is a poem I shared with you years ago after meeting widows in Rwanda spinning wool into yarn. I learned something from those women and I never forgot it: It’s never too late to start fresh and the pain in your life is no reason to neglect the beauty that could be in your future, so long as you give it the time and space it needs to grow. It was time to make a goal and follow through from start to finish. It was time to try something new. It was time to find beauty.
The whole process has been very therapeutic for me and has certainly instilled a confidence that wasn’t there before. With each strip sewn together and then each square and then each strip of squares and so on and so forth, I was reminded that creating art, just like living life, is a process. Easy days and hard days. Old lessons coming to the surface and new ones being learned everyday. It felt so good in each step of the process to see the work that had been done each day. A very tangible thing to hold onto when life feels, for the most part, out of my control.
Now I am nearing the end, but it will still be quite some time due to the strong opinion of a well respected friend. I told her I was going to back it with dark brown fabric and tie the squares together with embroidery thread…that I was almost done! She begged me not to do either of those things and to give the back of thequilt a life of its own. A colorful back and a hand quilted touch were really what this quilt needed. Sure enough, I bought a beautiful backing fabric and I am learning how to hand quilt. Of course she was right: the quilt is absolutely stunning and something I will surely treasure for the rest of my life.
The lessons continued that day as I remembered that it is often so tempting to take the quick and easy path, but it is often the long and tedious roads that offer a much greater reward in the end. I will forever be reminded of many life experiences thanks to this quilt. When the bright colors meet my eye, I am transported to many fond days in my second home, Rwanda. As I look at each seem and patch tediously sewn together, I will remember my final days with the band I have fallen in love with. Best of all, there will be the constant reminder that if you dedicate yourself to something and you care for it each step of the way, excellent fruit will surely come of it.