Monday, February 2, 2009

Imagi(ni)ng Faith

I just finished a journal quilt that is all about questions instead of answers. Since I got sick, I've been struggling with issues of faith. In my past, "healthy" life, I thought I had a good grasp on my spirituality, my beliefs, my understanding of the universe. Since then, though, I've been struggling with questions about how my illness (how I?) fit into the bigger scheme of things.

For some reason, thinking about all these issues brought to mind one of our "wildlife" adventures, blogged about in this post. I kept thinking about those birds, swooping through the garage with their sticks and bits of fluff to build a nest, then with food for those little cheeping babies. I wondered if their diligence required a good bit of faith; living in the wild as they do, do they approach the nest every time with fear that either their eggs or screeching little hatchlings will be gone? Or do they fly confidently back with faith that everything is just as they left it? Maybe both: maybe there's no extracting fear from faith, and vice-versa. Or maybe neither: maybe those birds are just living life day-to-day, doing what it is their instincts tell them to do without thought. Either way, they go on, pushing through every day, and I have no doubt that they'll be back this spring, seeking out the relative safety of our garage.

This quilt started as a mixed-media collage on watercolor paper, using scrapbooking papers, stickers, stamps (rubber and postage), and paints. I then printed the collage onto fabric, cut it up into three pieces, and fused it to the background fabric. I left the edges of these pieces raw and pulled some threads to fray them. I machine-quilted the whole piece, then added the ribbon and, on top of it, the beads (which are pretty hard to see in the pic).

I don't think this quilt brought me any closer to resolving my struggles around issues of faith, but I do find something comforting in thinking about those birds and how they press on year after year in the face of their own struggles. Maybe in some small way, that's what faith is about.


tiedyejudy said...

I have been told that fear is the absence of faith. I also know I spent a lot of my life without any faith, but circumstances changed that. Now I have far less fear...
Some things happen, I believe, to get our attention so we can take stock, regroup, and become aware of what is really important to us. Maybe that was the purpose of your illness... to give you time to reflect on how you want to spend your days going forward...
I love your story of the birds! I have a particular fondness for them, and have done what I could to make our yard hospitable to them, so we have many visitors to observe each year. Enjoy!

DubiQuilts - Debbi said...

vHi Michele,

I so understand how you feel. The beginning of 2008 I suffered seven heart attacks, had 5 stents put in my heart, many hospital stays and have many other medical problems to face. I have questioned my Jewish faith and faith in general. I also am in a new relationship with a man who is not Jewish who also struggles with his faith. I have been reading books on faith, religion, attending a class and going to church with my sweetheart. I am not giving up being Jewish but find comfort going to a Christen Church. To me G-D is G-D not matter what building I am attending.

I have been asking myself many of the same questions you are asking yourself. I can tell you will find your answers but it will take time. If you want to talk please email at We can talk via emails or I would be glad to give you my phone number.

I love your quilt!! I have only been in my studio twice the past year and am just now getting back to creating art.

Take small step each day and know I am right next to you!!

Take Care,
DubiQuilts - Debbi

Michele said...

Judy, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I think you're right about things happening to get our attention. I still believe there's a reason for everything, I just don't know what it is yet. I guess it's like a dream--it doesn't make sense at first, but looking back on it later I manage to figure out what it was all about.

Debbi, 7 heart attacks! Good gosh, girl, you are a miracle to be alive! Thanks for sharing your story. I'll shoot you an email soon.

Elizabeth said...

This piece is wonderful!! I love how you explain the process of how you put it together!!! I think that you have a very good grasp of faith!! to me one of the basic simple definitions of faith is- To move forward with purpose!! You are certainly doing that . Birds can teach so much about incredible strength and purpsoe with such fragility!!

Great Job!!