Assembling random pieces of fabric or paper to create something beautiful is what quilters and scrapbookers do. And they do it with gusto at the Shekinah Retreat Centre’s annual Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat. This year, “Random pieces into beautiful creations” was also the theme chosen for the retreat by speaker Sharon Schultz.
Schultz, who is pastor of Eyebrow Mennonite Church, is neither a quilter nor a scrapbooker, but puts her creative energy into writing sermons. She said that sermon-writing is not unlike other creative endeavours.
In three devotional sessions from Sept. 26 to 28, Schultz led participants in contemplating how God, like a quilter, takes the random pieces of a person’s life and stitches them together, making a beautiful creation. Citing examples from her own life and the lives of biblical characters, Schultz suggested that God can create beauty out of difficulty, pain and ugliness:
- Tamar, whose story is told in Genesis 38, had a number of strikes against her, yet she is one of a handful of women identified in Jesus’ genealogy.
- The Samaritan woman of John 4 likewise had some rough edges, but Jesus took the rough and ugly pieces of her life and assembled them into something worthwhile as she got to know Jesus and introduced her neighbours to him.
- Abraham wasn’t perfect, even though he was a man of faith. He and his wife Sarah grew impatient waiting for God to fulfill the promise of a son and took matters into their own hands by having a son through Hagar. Their decisions resulted in strife and conflict, yet God brought healing and beauty to their lives.
Extending the metaphor, Schultz suggested that, as God assembles the random pieces of a person’s life, Jesus acts as the thread stitching the pieces together. The underside of the quilt top, like sin and suffering, is rough and ugly, but is cushioned and protected by God’s healing and warmth, represented by the thick, soft quilt batting. All of this is bound together by God’s love and grace, symbolized by the backing and binding fabric, which hold the quilt together.
Retreat participants were asked to bring items they had created which they felt revealed something about them. These were used during a “get acquainted show-and-tell” time. One woman brought a quilt in warm shades of yellow showing her love for sunny days. Another brought scrapbook pages of her family, revealing her love for her grandchildren. Still another confessed her fondness for making things by hand as she demonstrated how to make a simple Christmas tree ornament out of fabric.
Edna Balzer, a quilter and breast cancer survivor, brought a quilt block she had pieced that depicted a butterfly. The various colours in the block represented her journey through diagnosis and treatment to recovery, she explained.
Rhonda Wright, a watercolour painter, brought a painting of a sunflower and a butterfly that she calls “Face to Face.” The painting, said Wright, revealed not only her love of the outdoors, but also her love for creating things and being with her sisters.
When they weren’t cutting, stitching, pasting or painting, participants enjoyed walks along Shekinah’s hiking trails. Visiting together over meals or coffee and admiring one another’s creations were also significant parts of the weekend’s activities.
As the retreat drew to a close, Schultz reminded the women that each of them is one of God’s beautiful creations. Participants responded with warmth and appreciation for Schultz’s words of encouragement.
--Posted Oct. 13, 2014
Participants at the Shekinah Retreat Centre’s Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat gather for a group photo on their final day together. Many of the women are holding items they crafted during the three-day event.
As part of a ‘get acquainted show-and-tell’ at the Shekinah Retreat Centre’s Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat, Edna Balzer of Rosthern, Sask., shares her story of cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery using a quilt block she created depicting a butterfly.
Quilting instructor Anne Madden of Osler, Sask., seated, admires a Christmas stocking pieced and quilted by Becky Wiebe of Outlook, Sask., at the Quilting and Scrapbooking Retreat held recently at the Shekinah Retreat Centre near Waldheim, Sask.