Pastoral Letter for Wed 28th Oct:
My Dear Friends,
l wonder if, at home, you have any little family treasures and heirlooms. Little Mementoes that have been passed down from a previous generation.
I have a Rag Book. I played with it when I was a very young child; but actually, it was my father's before me – and only then mine. And it has been passed down through the generations since - for each child to read and play with. It belonged to my daughters. And now, it belongs to Beth. Beth is my father's great grand- daughter, and the fourth generation to have cherished this book. And one day, who knows, Beth might pass it on to her children. It is good to have precious little reminders of people who were once like us.A young woman called Patricia once wrote a lovely little book called “The Keeping Quilt”; and its a true story. Patricia’s Great-Grandmother, (whose name was Anna) had come to America as a child. The Family were immigrants - and they had come from Russia. The only things Anna had brought with her from Russia were her little dress and her Babushka Doll.
Soon enough, Anna outgrew her old dress - and she was too old to play with her dolls. Her mother said to her: “We will make a quilt - to help us always remember home. lt will be like having the family back home in Russia dance around us at night!” And so, Anna's mother cut up Anna's old dress - and cut little squares out of the old dress her doll had worn. She then found a whole basket of old clothes that she had brought with her specially from Russia as keepsakes and reminders. There was Uncle Vladimir's shirt; Aunt Havalah's nightdress; and an apron of Aunt Natasha’s.Next, Anna's mother invited a whole group of the neighbourhood women to come round for a kind of Knit and Natter. (Not unlike our own Shawl Ministry.) These women put a whole lot of love and friendship and skill into cutting up the old clothes - and making a Patchwork Pattern out of them - and sewing the squares all together into a QUILT. And it became ''THE KEEPING QUILT'' - A very special quilt - which had sewn into it - so many precious memories for Anna's whole Family.
Patricia - who wrote this story - tells how, for almost a hundred years, that “Keeping Quilt” was passed along from mother to daughter over four generations. She tells us how her great grandmother, her grandmother, her mother, and she herself - all used and cherished that Keeping Quilt. Down through the years, it had been used in their Family for all sorts of very special occasions. It has been used as a Tablecloth, as a Wedding Canopy, and as a Blanket to welcome new babies into the world - and keep them warm. All through its life, the Keeping Quilt was used at all sorts of different events. Special events that involved the whole Family. Whenever the Family came together the Keeping Quilt was brought out and used. It was a reminder of their belonging together with one another - and of the love they shared. Indeed, this lovely tradition became a symbol of that Family's enduring love and faith.
Patricia tells us that the Family Quilt has been passed on to each generation.
This is a story about how Time passes; but Love endures. It is the Story of Four generations of Women - who follow what can sometimes be - (for some women) – life’s pattern of change. Being born; and then, for some, it involves getting married; for some it includes having a baby; for many, it involves growing old; and for all it means eventually dying. All these women in Patricia’s family are shown to be caring, loving individuals - who value their family tradition and belonging - and who pass on the quilt!
The Keeping Quilt reminds us that our lives are tied up with the lives of others. It reminds us that its good to remember those we love. Its good to cherish their memories - and to pass on their stories. Especially as we approach this coming Season of All Saints and All Souls.
Liz joins me in sending our love to you all.