The following is a meditation from long-time Pax Christi member, Eileen Melia of Arlington, Virginia.
A request from the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) and listening to the Spirit led to the creation of this quilt which I’ve named “Blessed Offerings.” Making this quilt has given me great joy! My mind, heart, and soul believe that this quilt is a visual testimony to all God’s beloved who believe that Catholic women are called to priestly service.
Quilting is for me a form of contemplation. The material speaks of the wonders of our awesome God. My meditation is shared with the hope that it might provide others with an opportunity to see the holy in the mundane. Each moment lived in the present is a gift. As I am sewing the pattern, the color and the individual pieces of material all tell a story of the wonders of our creative God. This is my reflection on the symbolic meaning of the fabrics.
The background material is a two tonal blue fabric interspersed with tiny white stars. The blues speak of both the heavens and the earth. The beauty of an alluring bright blue sky is reminiscent of a heaven filled with stars. Stars that come to earth to bring God’s light to a humanly earthly environment. The Spirit was breathing women’s stories via this blue starred fabric! May the Spirit lead all in ways to be free, just, and open to God’s call!
At the center of the quilt is a valentine shaped heart representative of women’s fervent loving hearts. It is a feminine pink colored heart with varying shades suggesting the strength of a muscle which has seen much turmoil. It is a strong feminine muscular heart pulsating with vigorous life. It speaks truth of how this journey has been and continues to be challenged by rigorous trials of testing, prodding, and finding new ways of adjusting to each day’s situation. Yet through it all it keeps going to the pulsating dance of life. Now too, there is ample room around the heart to explore those inner spaces which have not always felt completely accessible.
At the base of the heart are two strong purple handprints which represent the hands of friendship and wisdom. They also honor the Women’s Ordination Conference’s choice of purple as stated in their symbolism of the purple stole at http://www.womensordination.org/content/view/132/
- Purple proclaims the royal priesthood of the People of God.
- Purple is the liturgical color used in Lent, thus it also proclaims sorrow for the way women’s leadership and ministerial gifts have been wasted by the hierarchical church.
- In ancient times, however, purple was a symbol of metanoia, a new beginning. This is the spirit of Action Purple Stole today.
- And finally, purple has long been one of the colors of the women’s movement.
Additionally, ascending on both sides of the heart are various sizes, shapes and colors of interlocking hands providing testimony to the history and diversity of sisterhood that ascribes, works, and prays for the day when they will be fully accepted at into ordained priesthood. As you look at all the colors you will see that they might depict many different experiences from joy and sorrow to the uplifting of hearts in a variety of peaceful and excited ways in which women challenge the status quo.
Coming out of the top of the heart are a chalice and a host signifying women’s desire and willingness to seek ordained priesthood. Coming down from the top of the heavens are a set of gold outlined handprints in the manner in which blessings are given. They are symbolic of God’s blessings and willingness to accept women’s sacred offerings. The gold hand tracings need an up- close and personal look, yet so like God who is always in all ways surrounding the world with love.
The first inside border is a small purple strip with tiny lines similar to tree rings which tell the evolution of WOC’s movement. Additionally, in the background of this fabric are a number of different colors. They proclaim the many methods by which women share wisdom! Much wisdom is shared through the hands represented on this quilt. Maybe it is only a word, a sigh, or a collective laugh that provides the insight to a situation that has been perplexing for years. Definitely hands hold the phone to listen and share the depths of hearts with one another. At times, it may be difficult to grasp the relevance of another’s sharing, yet women continue to reach out and encourage one another. May life always be blessed by women who will listen, share, speak the truth, act justly, and care deeply for one another.
Next, the light lavender border communicates the wishes of little children and those with a childlike spirit who doodle white penciled hearts to show the world their heart and soul desires. Although they are young, they question the equality of a Church where they allowed to serve to a degree but there are no provisions for them to progress to priesthood.
The outside border and binding fabric is of butterflies. It is just so beautiful and speaks of transformation. Like the butterfly, life offers one a multitude of stages. Taking risks while spreading wings involves both trust and fortitude. Note that the butterflies are on a black background, as in the dark night of the soul. Perhaps these are reminders of women soulfully sharing wisdom and reflecting graced filled stories. On looking closely you will see that there are also flowers and leaves in this material. The flowers tell of the garden of life. Flowers come in many colors and forms just like one’s family, friends, and community. Interspersed among those colors are specks of gold reflecting stories that have been grace filled. However, notice that the flowers and butterflies are outlined in gold while the leaves are composed of gold. This signifies that God’s graces have always blessed women’s tree of life and that God never leaves one but rather sends people into one’s life that will enhance growth.
The quit back is a regal purple fabric that connotes all those wisdom women and their supporters in the universal cosmos of everlasting love whose soul’s desire that women be fully accepted in the hierarchal Catholic Church as priest. It comes with prayers and feminine energy from the beginning of time. Look at all those little twinkling stars; they shine with wishes through the night from all corners and cultures of the earth as all womanhood joins hands and voices in praise of an all accepting God. Our Creator encourages the continuing energetic growth women add to the cosmos.
A chuckle is needed here and there and God provides for all our needs. The piecing of this quilt was sewn with gray thread. It reminded me that as one grows in wisdom, one is not apt to see things in absolutes of black and white but rather graduations of gray.
The appliqué stitch was used on both the heart and the hands to remind one of the piercings or challenges that have been encountered in life but in retrospect can be seen as graces that encourage wisdom and growth. A simple diamond pattern was used to quilt the layers together a call to say all are diamonds in the rough! The stitching on the top of the quilt is done with invisible thread, which may remind one that frequently many of one’s actions remain unseen by most of the world. However all that really matters is that God knows the intention of one’s heart.
The final stitches of this binding were hand sewn and as I took each stitch it was a prayer for all women that as the journey goes forward each will continue to be covered with a profusion of God’s choicest blessings!
May the God of all love, the God of all hope, and the God of all peace be a well source of abundant blessings as the journey continues.
4303 South Sixth St.
Arlington, Va. 22204-1411
Affirmation Quilts Ministry
PS – This quilt is machine washable and dryer safe.