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Linda Crowe recounts teens creating peace quilt

Linda Crowe, retired pastor from Veradale UCC who served as interim near Minneapolis, recently preached at Westminster UCC in Spokane, telling of the peace-theme quilt junior high campers at N-Sid-Sen made last summer.

Linda Crowe displays quilt made by junior high campers last summer at N-Sid-Sen.

Each camper and counselor was given a square of plain fabric and invited to decorate it with a fabric marker with a design or message.

They knew the quilt would be given away, discussed possibilities and voted to give it to Hospice House to give comfort and love to a resident in “the closing season of life.”

The theme for the camp was “peace,” so peace symbols and the word, “peace,” are many places on the quilt.

Once they made their squares, they put the pieces on the floor of Stillwater Lodge and discussed where to place them amid yellow and green patterned pieces.

Linda stitched the pieces together and to the quilt top to use as a backdrop for closing worship. Recently, she stitched the quilt top to batting and backing, and added binding to finish it.

“It represents the community at a specific church camp during the summer of 2015,” she said.

It was created to be given to a person in need of comfort, a resident of Hospice House we do not know,” she said.

Some of the words written on quilt squares are  “Stay strong.” “Peace, hope, love is probably what you need.” “God will surround you with courage and love.” “Love is all you need. “God’s love never fails.” “Peace like a river, may you know God’s peace in all of your life.” “May God bless you with peace.” “Peace be with you.” “Peace, peace, peace.”

“These words of comfort and peace made the quilt a comforter in the truest sense of the word,” Linda said, noting that a quilt brings physical warmth and is beautiful to look at.  “It warms our bodies and hearts. 

Love, hope, memories and prayers are often stitched and tied into a comforter.

“It reminds us that we all need a Comforter, another name for God,” Linda said.  “We often need more than a physical comforter.”

Linda pointed out that people’s lives can be so painful, lonely and difficult that “we need a COMFORTER with capital letters,” she said.  “We all need a comforter,” she said. 

“We may have sleepless nights that even a beautiful quilt won’t help. We may feel like the pieces of our lives are coming unstitched, and we need mending. Or we may feel that our lives are so terribly complicated that our threads are all tangled and full of knots,” Linda said.  “There are so many times when each one of us needs a comforter.”

Psalm 86, Isaiah 66:13 and John 14 all give images of God as a comforter.

“The understanding of God as comforter is an important image for us to hold when we feel like our lives are in bits and pieces,” Linda said.

“Sometimes God gives comfort through people around us,” she said.

Linda told of a friend who made a quilt for a co-worker.  Not only did it comfort her during chemotherapy, but also as the friends made squares stitched it together, they were comforted and able to deal with their friend’s cancer.

“Through hearts and hands of others, God provides comfort,” she said.  “God comforts us when we turn to God in prayer.”

Linda remembered a time when prayers and pieces for a patchwork quilt were mixed together.  On Oct. 20, 1991, when a fire raged in Oakland and Berkeley while she was studying for her master of divinity degree at Pacific School of Religion, she and dorm-mates prayed. The sky was black with smoke.  Students had bags packed.  While waiting for possible evacuation, she did calligraphy and cut quilt squares.

The winds shifted and saved her housing, but 3,000 homes were lost.  Prayer helped her during that time.

Linda pointed to the quilt hanging from a frame and said that quilt would be a comforter for a person in his or her last period of life.  Someone would be given the quilt to cover and comfort him or her.

“I hope the person will understand that someone cared enough to make a comforter,” she said.  “Not everyone has a tangible symbol of comfort and love, but every one of us has a Comforter who loves and cares for us always, through all our joys and sorrows, struggles and celebrations, through all the seasons of life.

“When you feel terrified, imagine yourself wrapped in a comforter made of God’s love,’” Linda said.

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Copyright © June 2016 Pacific NW UCC News


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