I just finished reading “Hidden In Plain View: A secret story of quilts and the Underground Railroad.” Tobin and Dobard examined the history and role that quilts played in helping slaves on their treacherous, dangerous, and life-saving journey to freedom.
I started quilting over twenty years ago and I started as a “traditional” quilter. I bought books and patterns and created quilts that were designed by other quilters. I utilized “contemporary” fabrics, but the patterns were tried and true, and I knew that decades if not centuries of quilters had created these same patterns before me.
Because of the limited resources available to slaves, and freed slaves, it was common for old quilts to be used as batting (the middle layer between the quilt top and backing) for a new quilt. However, what if we took a different view of old quilts? Tobin helps us “reframe” the experience of keeping old quilts.
In the epilogue of the book, Tobin states, “What is old and warn is spiritually textured.” That statement is not only applicable to quilts from the Underground Railroad, but anything that has a history. One example is the cost and value of antique furniture. Individuals have found value in what’s old; it has value.
We find that old things that are “spiritually textured” have a history and a story. Telling stories is the center of our existence. It allows us to convey our experiences and our connection to what transpired in the past. It allows us to feel a part of something greater than ourselves. It gives us a connection to a past we couldn’t know about any other way.
How do we unlock the spiritual mysteries of those quilts (possessions) that are old and worn? What draws us to these items; obviously we are drawn to them for a reason. What is it about the unspoken story that attracts our own stories to meet on the spiritual plane? What do you think about old and warn being spiritually textured?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below…thanks for joining me on the journey.