When I wrote the title to today’s blog post I must admit to being a bit startled. “Why?” you might ask. If you’ve ever read The Hobbit and/or The Lord of the Rings you’ll get the reference to J. R. R Tolkein‘s character Gollum who appears throughout the books. Gollum is a fascinating character. We learn that Gollum is a Hobbit who over time is consumed by the Ring of Power – the ring that controls the other rings. I admit that in a marathon quilting event a few weeks ago I played all 9 hours, 3 times over the course of several days. Gollum stood out to me during the marathon. There are moments, real honest-to-goodness moments of clarity – where we can see Smeagol – the person Gollum truly is overshadowed by mental illness or good/evil heavily influenced by the power of the ring. All of this brought Smeagol/Gollum to re-present/represent the worst in Hobbit kind and essentially humankind. Then there are the Hobbits we meet directly: Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pip they each show us so much about being human, having character, bravery, humility, sinfulness, flaws and conversion of heart. This conversion for Smeagol/Gollum seems unattainable though Frodo points it out very clearly to Sam telling Sam that “we need to pity him” meaning that Gollum needs to be treated with dignity and respect. It is this comment, this experience with Frodo and Gollum that allows Sam to become a leader, the Mayor of Hobbiton.
The Still, Small Voice of Love
Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, “Prove that you are a good person.” Another voice says, “You’d better be ashamed of yourself.” There also is a voice that says, “Nobody really cares about you,” and one that says, “Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.” But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, “You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you.” That’s the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen.
That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us “my Beloved.”
– Henri Nouwen
We all have the opportunity to become, to be transformed, to experience a deep conversion of heart to become the Beloved. We need to be open to listening to where the Lord is leading us recognizing that we are all unique individuals and our paths are not the same as any other unique individual.
One of the most interesting things I see working with customers is the process and how they find their quilterly voice over time. We all start out with “a quilt is supposed to look like this” choosing patterns and fabrics that look like their perception of what a quilt should look like. When given permission to change some quilters will go with it, some won’t. Much depends on their influences and mindset. One newbie quilter I met could not, no matter what the conversation or the evidence that what she wanted to do would work – could not, would not embrace a particular color even though it was the once color she wanted in her quilt. Want to know why? Because someone told her she couldn’t use that color. What truly bothered me about that – okay there are several things that bothered me about our conversation that day – is that the teacher placing the limit on the students opportunity for growth and development as a quilt maker. As quilt makers fabric and thread become transformed into something beautiful limited only by our own imagination and willingness to take risks.
It’s also important to listen, really listen to where our own creative imagination is leading. Our quilts, our art will be all the better for that listening. We are essentially listening to the voice of our Creator.
Over the last week as I’ve pondered this blog post wondering how to make sense of this all a Harry Chapin Tune has been wandering through my head, “Flowers are Red”. I’ve liked a lot of his work for years, there’s something incredibly honest and grounded about it. The lyrics to Flowers Are Red speak to how to teach and engage people in quilting, art and thinking. Sam learns how to see Gollum with compassion, the newbie quilter can – eventually, hopefully – embrace the color she was told not to use and we can begin to see ourselves as Beloved by God and others.
PS bonus link: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-higher-purpose-of-doodling/