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O.C. RELIGION | ON FAITH

Sacrifice, Love and a Quilt for a Child

November 04, 2000|Kathleen Lubeck Peterson | Kathleen Lubeck Peterson, an Irvine resident, is a former seminary teacher for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She's also a member of the Relief Society, the Mormon women's organization

The quilt appeared on her bed one morning when Elizabeth was 4 years old. It was sky blue with flannel pictures of Cinderella stitched on top. Eighty-six-year-

old hands had stitched it, a great-grand-

mother's love trumping arthritis.

Elizabeth loved to hide under the parlor quilting frame when the ladies with the fat shoes and rolled-down stockings came to quilt. It was her secret place, safe and warm, when her mother was away teaching school. As a child, she learned this truth: Quilting is love made tangible. That lesson would follow her into adulthood.

"I know thy works, and charity, and service."

--Revelation 2:19.

Elizabeth was overwhelmed. Not so much with the fact that as local president of the Relief Society she had committed hundreds of women in Orange, Tustin and Santa Ana to design and make quilts for children at the Olive Crest Homes for Abused Children. She knew these women. They would enthusiastically respond to the call.

And she wasn't even overwhelmed because she didn't know how to quilt. As a part-time attorney in family practice with her husband, and mother of two young kids, she was accustomed to weaving bits of time into her schedule for special needs. Adding a few more threads of time to learn how to quilt with the other volunteers would be a sacrifice, but fun.

Even in the process of learning, wrangling the colored blocks of cloth into patterns that angled askew and herding the colored swatches into mismatched rows, then reshuffling them, she didn't despair. A friend gave her a diagram showing how to piece the quilt.

What really overwhelmed her was that last Saturday when the people came to help finish the project. They brought quilting frames, ironing boards and sewing machines that filled up the basketball court in the church recreation hall.

Dads came, teenage sons and daughters came, small children came, all wanting to help. They quilted together, families, friends, even strangers, bound tightly together with the fine thread of goodness in a patchwork of people--Latinos, Polynesians, Asians, whites, blacks.

One neighbor who had read in the newspaper about the gathering dropped off two quilts she had made. A man in his 30s, who slyly noted he was crafty, had designed, cut, pieced, and bound a quilt of clear jewel colors. Another woman anonymously dropped off 32 blankets, purchased, washed, covered in bright sheets, and bound.

And the Relief Society women brought piles of quilts they'd worked on during the past few months.

And then there was Delsa Douglas. A woman in her 70s, she left her retirement home that day, rolled her sewing machine into the great hall on a cart and sewed for more than six hours straight, binding quilts.

The quilt harvest was bountiful. The 92 quilts and 32 covered blankets were spread out in a rainbow of fabric, draped side by side along the pews of the chapel that day. That meant 124 abused children would each receive a quilt of their own, a gift of time and love fashioned stitch by stitch just for them.

As the representative from Olive Crest said, there's nothing like snuggling up with a warm quilt. The children who have had so much hurt in their lives can feel warmer, safer, more loved.

"But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever."

--The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Moroni 7:47.

There is a curious relationship between sacrifice and unselfish love. They team up to ennoble our spirits and cultivate our souls. Together they transfuse a bit of one's soul into another's heart. And oddly enough, both souls expand.

The blue Cinderella quilt is now faded and a bit ragged. It covers Jordan's bed now, a gift of love from her mother Elizabeth. I think Jordan's great-great-grandmother Sarah Jane Stott Partridge would be happy to know the quilt was passed on. We pass these gifts of love from one to another, caring, tending, giving, receiving, carrying each other's burdens.

It's love made tangible.

On Faith is a forum for Orange County clergy and others to offer their views on religious topics of general interest. Submissions, which will be published at the discretion of The Times and are subject to editing, should be delivered to Orange County religion page editor William Lobdell.

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