Life is a Patchwork Quilt

February 28, 2011 | 13 comments

I’m prostrate on the snow, camera to eye.

Snowy hillside is sparkling, and I’m smitten by the God who bejewels flakes. I marvel at a diamond-studded earthen blanket. And I — still in jammies — lay down upon it.

On my way out here, the phone rang. The man on the other end was one of the spiritual directors for the weekend retreat I led. He wanted to reminisce. My heart burned in our retelling and remembering.

I put him on speaker, and lay the phone in flakes beside me as I snap beauty.

“What a weekend!” the voice booms, and then this: “I’m praying for you guys today, you know that? There are many of us praying.”

He and I and 106 others spent last weekend on a spiritual mountaintop.

I’m like Peter. I wanted to build a shelter, so I could stay up there a while. I like the view from the mountain. But life isn’t lived on mountaintops; fruit doesn’t grow there. Real life is lived in the valley.

But there is beauty in the valley.

Cold presses against my cotton pajama pants, and it chills me right through. But I lay here longer, snapping and snapping, as the voice continues: “I just got off the phone with your husband. What time is the surgery again?”

I tell him we’re leaving at 10:30 this morning. Surgery is scheduled for 1 p.m., and yes, we know it’s routine to the doctor. But it’s not routine to us.

The voice in the snow understands: “I have no words.”

And sometimes that’s the very best thing of all to say.

Some say it’s “just” gall bladder surgery. But when it’s your loved one wearing the hospital gown, it’s more than a “just”…

I snap more photos. I’ve come to photograph a quilt, to see beauty out here in the God Gallery.

Azure and silver-threaded sapphire patches for winter.
Violet patches for spring.
Jade for summer.
And earthen hues for fall.

Trish gave me this quilted gift during our weekend retreat. She wrote on the card: “For Jennifer Dukes Lee … In All the Seasons of Her Life.”

I snap one more photo, of a quilt laying upon an earthen quilt, and see how life stitches all together in hands of holy God.

Even the chilly garment of winter holds beauty all its own.

“Life isn’t given to us all of a piece,
It’s more like a patchwork quilt
Each hour and minute a patch to fit in
To the pattern that’s being built.

With some patches light — and some patches dark
And some that seem ever so dull
But if we were given to set some apart,
We’d hardly know which to cull.

For it takes the dark patches to set off the light,
And the dull to show up the gay
And, somehow, the pattern just wouldn’t be right
If we took any part away.

No, life isn’t given us all of a piece,
But in patches of hours to use,
That each can work out his pattern of life
To whatever design he might choose.”

— Helen Lowrie Marshall

We ask for your prayers today — for our “more than just…”

by | February 28, 2011 | 13 comments


  1. patty

    yes, dear, I'll be praying…

  2. RCUBEs

    Praying sister Jennifer. And the One Who is the Master Weaver already knows and is ahead. This hard to understand piece of fabric is being viewed from up there by the One Who knows. What seems senseless piece to us then becomes a part of His masterpiece.

    God bless you sister and protect you all. Thank you for your prayers also.

  3. Laura

    I'm glad you've returned to us here in the valley, friend. Perhaps you will share some of that face-glow from the mountain in the coming days?

    Your quilt is beautiful and I smile to think of you sitting in the snow.

    You are beautiful, lady. 🙂

  4. Linda

    Praying all goes well with the surgery Jennifer and for an easy recovery time.
    I can't believe how perfectly your post and that dear poem reflect the reasons I chose the title I did for my blog. I am going to copy it and put it somewhere where I can read it often.

  5. David Rupert

    Yes. prayers.

    Loved the photo and the illustration. It takes all kinds right?

  6. deb colarossi

    gorgeous .
    and hope all is well.
    I never think anything is just just.

  7. Jeanne Damoff

    Praying with you! Glad you had a glorious weekend and returned to the valley trusting the One who never misses a stitch.

    Love, Jeanne

  8. travelmom

    Prayers for you both. I had emergency gallbladder surgery about 6 years ago now. The recovery was smooth with no complications. I will pray this for your hubby. I understand wanting to stay on the mountaintop – but you are so right, life is not lived only on the mountaintop and faith grows richest in the valleys.

  9. Runner Mom

    Hey Jennifer, I will be lifting you all up in prayer! I love the quilt and the poem that accompanies it. I am in the process of creating a quilt for my oldest for his high school graduation in June. This one that you have is just lovely! What a beautiful gift!

  10. Michelle DeRusha@Graceful

    So grateful to hear the surgery went well and he is on the mend. And that quilt? Beautiful gift…exactly like you.

  11. Kathleen Overby

    this sparkles and shines. 🙂

  12. Sandra Heska King

    Oh my goodness. This is beautiful.

    I had that gallbladder thing a couple years ago. Got the call while on the "mountain" at a couples retreat. From the mountain to the valley. Which was a mountain all its own. Trusting your husband is doing well.

    Glad I'm not the only one who heads outside in my jammies.


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