When Life Gives You Scraps, Make Quilts

While we have been hearing about the COVID19 virus for weeks, it has certainly been affecting our lives dramatically in the last few days.  We grieve with those who are suffering from this virus and their families.  More than ever we see that we are all connected.  In the words of poet John Donne:

       “Each man’s death diminishes me
        For I am involved in mankind
        Therefore, send not to know
        For whom the bell tolls
        It tolls for thee.”|

For the majority of us, at least for now, this virus mostly means social isolation and distancing.  In a season of Lent, it means not being able to worship with other people.  It is not being able to visit those who live alone.  It is no sports on television, and difficulty for businesses whose wary customers have avoided them.  It is hardship for others who have been laid off.  But it also means that you see who the real heroes are, the truckers and warehouse staff who have put in the hours needed to keep the grocery stores supplied in the face of panic, the neighbours checking up on each other.  It means the silver lining of lower air pollution, and an opportunity to ask about whether our industrialized, entitled lifestyle was really so necessary.

It means keeping ourselves occupied when self-quarantining and for some, that is proving quite a challenge.   Online resources have proven to be a boon for virtual community and information.  There’s time for reading books and listening to music.  We can connect with our tribe, people we sometimes have taken for granted.  The nature we’ve neglected beckons as spring has begun.   Out of long-term storage, we unearth half-done craft projects, and give them another try.

So I’ve gotten to work on making a quilt out of my leftover material stash and an old quilt pattern, something I’ve been meaning to do for quite a while.  Quilting has always been, for me, a way of incorporating the circumstances of your life, though they be only scraps, into something beautiful.  Quilts evoke memories and emotions, as you come across material from old children’s clothing. as you think of the people who worked with you in quilt class.  They remind you of the circumstances in which they were created.

We don’t yet know what will happen in the next little while.  The world has seen plague before, and sometimes creativity finds whole new ways of expressing itself.  Boccaccio’s The Decameron was written around the time of the Black plague, 1348 AD.  It’s a collection of 100 tales by 10 people who have secluded themselves away in a villa outside Florence, Italy.  Hundreds of years later it was part of my Italian Literature class curriculum.

We also don’t know how this will change the world going forward.  But, just as I include both dark and light in piecing a quilt, we can trust that God, the great Designer, will graciously waste nothing in our lives.



Dance an Irish Jig

Nina Garman – Pixabay.com

Perhaps we all carry a little bit of Celtic legacy, for we love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  Our Friendship students had no difficulty in chiming in with rhyme on these couplets.

Oh, bide a while you friendly band
As I tell of St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

In honour of great St. Patrick
We will attempt a limerick.

Once a year, on March seventeen
Search your closet and wear something green.

The Trinity, so did St. Patrick talk
Is very like to a three-leaf shamrock.

Patrick banished these creatures, they did us forsake
And in all of Ireland, you’ll not find a snake.

Now you see him, now he’s gone
A little man called a leprechaun.

At the end of the rainbow, I’ve been told
He has hidden a pot of gold.

I’ve heard it said, and  I often wish
I could have the luck of the Irish.

For I’ve looked everywhere, all over
For a lucky four-leaf clover.

But it’s getting dark, by faith and begorra
I guess I’ll have to look tomorra.

Now the party begins, both little and big
Come together to dance an Irish jig.

When the music begins, I want to be in the middle
Bring out the dancers, and take out the fiddle!

The Irish love whisky, and there’s plenty of gin
But pray heaven keep me from a lifetime of sin.

If you don’t want any of that special green brew
Help yourself to a bowl of Irish stew.

The Irish gift of gab is in the stories they tell
A silver tongue makes for a tale told well.

If you want this gift for your own
You must kiss the Blarney stone.

You will live fine, and be fancy for certain
Hang in your window an Irish lace curtain.

When Irish eyes are smiling, you’ll be smiling, too
It’s St. Patrick’s Day, what else can you do?

Because it’s so true, what the Irish say
Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

Trudy Prins



Castle Door – Pixabay.com

 “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Margaret Mead

Part of the serendipity in visiting my Mom in a nursing home is that I never know who I may encounter there.  Just this week, I talked to a woman I’d known more than thirty years ago in Dundas, and ran into someone else named Trudy, who I hadn’t seen in nearly fifty years.  It instantly took me back to childhood:  our family would visit their Hamilton city home, and her family would visit us on the farm, an opportunity to view the best of both worlds.  In both these cases, it was amazing that we could re-connect based on our belonging to a small group of people years ago.

We tend to under-estimate the scale of our connections.  Many organizations, including churches, are struggling to survive.  We feel that we don’t make much difference with our little group and small contributions, forgetting that one kindness can have the effect of generating another.  If we make a difference to two people, and they in turn extend kindness to another two, the growth is exponential.

Maintaining relationships within a small group is easier.  The Rule of 150 was coined by British Anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, and is defined as the “suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships and thus numbers larger than this generally require more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group.

While not everyone can be close friends, its amazing how the people who fill the gap in times of need are within the periphery of this 150-member circle.  A small group has an astonishing potential in the number of possible one-to-one connections.   There’s a fascinating mathematics in the following formula: if k stands for the number of people in a group, and x stands for number of pairs,  here is the calculation for how many possible relationship pairs you can have in a group of 150 people:

k (k-1)/2 = x     or     150(150-1)/2 = 11,175 pairs!

We are so often impressed by powerful and showy actions, but it is actually the often hidden and small acts of kindness and love between people that can produce the changes this world so badly needs.

“For not with swords’ loud clashing     
Or roll of stirring drums;
With deeds of love and mercy
The heavenly kingdom comes.”

Nancy Smart, Ernest W. Shurtleff