The last three times I‘ve moved, I‘ve downsized before I packed. When I moved to Peoria, I only moved stuff I like and want to continue to share space with. Everything else was eliminated. Part of the fun of only keeping things that I enjoy is also using them all the time, instead of saving them. Spread across my guest bed is a beautiful quilt in the cross and crown pattern that I stored in a cedar chest for 15 years. When I went to Olney, there was a wonderful elder who was the epitome of a Christian engaged in his community: he‘d been dean of the local junior college when it was founded, had served on the county and city boards, was currently the president of the board of the local hospital, and was utterly devoted to his congregation, where he had grown up, taught Sunday school and had served for many years as Clerk. He chaired the mission study for us, and kept that entire group on task, called out the best in them, and was a font of historical information. The last time I saw him, he‘d dropped in to see if I was still worried about something we‘d been discussing. A few days later he suddenly died, while out on his morning walk. Gale was the sort of man one would never want to lose, and we gave witness to his wonderful, self-effacing life. About three weeks later his widow Shirley stopped by. After we‘d chatted a bit, she asked if it were true that I like the color purple. Yes. Out came the quilt now in my guest room and she told me she had made it some three years earlier. While she had labored over it, Gale would ask her from time to time who she was making it for and she would always say, I don‘t know, but I‘ll know when the time comes. Even today, this memory brings tears to my eyes – of the mystery of God working within her as she created such beauty, of Gale‘s pragmatic nature wondering why she would work on something without knowing the recipient, of Shirley‘s heart being nudged when Gale died to recognize she had made this quilt for the pastor who would bury her husband. It is amazing to see in hindsight how God‘s hand has been in something all along.
The purple quilt lies inside a bedframe made by my husband‘s great grand-father‘s brother. My favorite Stiffel lamp from our childhood home lights the corner. A purple chair from Bev‘s house sits under it; Harriet‘s watercolor, once mistaken for a Wyeth, hangs on the wall. I realize I love these things because of the memories associated with them. They call to mind so many people and times and nudge me to realize that I am woven, warp and woof, into the stream of countless lives, as they are woven into mine. I am thankful in this harvest season for the many ways I am surrounded by reminders of blessings. Look around yourselves and notice what brings your own blessings to mind. Count them. Name them one by one. Be thankful, for God is indeed good, all the time.