I sleep under a pile of quilts, each with a story. The blue one is the Holly Hobby quilt my grandmother made me when I was about nine. It’s soft from age and use and its seams show wear on the edges.
The white one is the patchwork that my aunt gave me, one of the treasured quilts made my by great-grandma.
The orange rainbow of colors is the patchwork quilt made by my husband’s grandma, pieced together from old scraps and favorite blankets, discarded sheets, and worn-out shirts.
The flowered one–which stretches out over the entire bed–was our wedding quilt, conceived while I was only in high school and my husband was only the hope of my grandmother, lovingly stitched through the intervening years in her odd moments. I remember alternating between admiration for Gran’s hard work (it was taking so long to stitch by hand!) and amusement for the old-fashioned notion of marriage.
She gave it to me in a pillowcase–because you don’t keep them in plastic; they won’t last that way–on my wedding day. I don’t think she knew it, but I cried inside. That quilt, with its careful stitching and painstaking hours, was a piece of my childhood, a reminder of who I was–my past as a child and my future as a wife–sewn together for my “new” old farmhouse.
When Gran started my wedding quilt, she had no way of knowing whether I would get married or whether she would get it finished. She poured herself into it, making it a piece of art she might never get to see used.
On the wall above my bed, there hangs a crucifix, and sometimes, when I lay in bed, I glance up at it in the dimness of my room, before I fall asleep snuggled under the quilts. Jesus’ arms are outstretched, and he’s looking down–right at me. There’s a lot of love in that gesture.
The quilts and the crucifix remind me of the beauty possible through sacrifice. Now that my wedding quilt has seen some use, and my crucifix has been moved to our new room, I find myself contemplating, once again, the role of sacrifice.
Sacrifice is a big part of my role as a parent. Sacrifice defines a portion of my vocation in my marriage. Sacrifice is really the Christian condition in many ways, as we look to Jesus’ example.
What I see, when I look at the pile of quilts and the simple crucifix, is how they’re tied together with love and how that makes them beautiful. As the quilts–the product of hours of work by others’ hands–engulf me and keep me physically warm, the crucifix offers me a different kind of hug by arms that are always open to receive me.
Copyright 2011 Sarah Reinhard