About 6 weeks or so before my husband and I married we went on an Engaged Encounter weekend. There are snippets of the weekend, visual memories, thoughts, conversations that live with me. The weekend was rightfully challenging, beautiful and strengthened our commitment to one another. We were one of 5 or 6 couples who celebrated the end of the weekend by holding each others hands, looking in each others eyes and celebrated the betrothal ceremony. We chose to make take the step of betrothal in an act of deeper understanding of the betrothal commitment and our love for one another. I know in the core of my being that weekend and what we learned and committed to has carried us through our married life.
If you’re not familiar with Engaged Encounter it is a weekend long experience for couples preparing to get married. The weekend involves some serious talks from already married couples discussing those things that couples can struggle with from money and child raising to sex and parents. The talks are followed by time spent writing in a journal with the couple sharing what they write to really engage the couple in conversation and discuss the tough topics.
On the 2nd night the couples leading sat in on a panel discussion where we, the participants, had the opportunity to ask questions. Someone asked the couples, “what year is the hardest year of being married?” The answer, “the first year and every year there after.”
Weren’t expecting that were you? Truthfully I wasn’t either. Marriage is hard work. Each year of marriage has its own challenges. And it has its own beauty. You see as we get through those challenging moment we are working to build up our marriage and shore it up against whatever lays before us. It’s kind of like doing pointing work on a brick building which has 2 functions: 1) to pretty up the building and 2) to seal up any cracks and waterproof against the elements. Pointing needs to be done periodically to continue to protect the building. Each couple needs to build one another up in order for the marriage to grow and be protected.
This quilter has thought over the last year or so of leaving the teaching/writing/competing aspect of the quilting world. It’s hard work, there is no doubt about it. And the thought of giving up teaching brings me to tears. Yes those honest-to-goodness, pain in the chest, I know this isn’t the right decision kind of tears. I love quilt making, I love teaching and all that goes into that process. I know that staying and working very hard is the right thing as it brings a very deep sense of peace.
Developing any skill takes time, there is no getting around it. A quilter may have some serious raw talent but it does take time to understand the components of quilting and how they work together. For each quilter this is different but the investment in that understanding is essential. I still practice with reckless abandon. I know I have a lot more to learn.
And just like my marriage there’s still a lot more time, effort and energy to be put into quilt making. The more I invest the better the quilting will be. As a teacher and quilter I will continue to do my best to bring out your best. The rest is truly up to you and I know you can do it!