We have a “comforter” at our house. Although I have watched copious amounts of HGTV and have logged several hours in a Pottery Barn or two, I don’t claim to know my comforters from my quilts from my duvets.
To further clarify, I’m not necessarily speaking of this type of “comforter”:
“So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter.” —Ecclesiastes 4:1
That’s for another day perhaps.
So here is a photo of our comforter. It is from IKEA®, so I guess it’s an immigrant comforter—Scandinavian, I believe. (I’ve also spent a few hours in IKEA®. It’s by design that you go there and stay awhile. If you’ve ever been in one you know you can’t get out until you reach the end—sort of like when we elect politicians to a four-year term. I can’t be certain of the comforter’s origin. It may actually be from Bangladesh. I cut the label off even though it warned that I was doing so at the risk of severe penalty. I can be anarchistic like that.
The comforter delivers on its promise. It is comforting; and warm, and utilitarian. Not once though, has anyone ever come to our house and said, “What a beautiful comforter, who made it?!”
However there is another covering in our home. Every time someone sees it they comment on its beauty.
While being mass-produced by the thousands and shipped from Sweden or Bangladesh is a story, this other covering has a real story. It was lovingly made by hand, by my daughter-in-law’s great aunt, Elda, who had curated the fabrics over time, selected the pieces with some kind of theme in mind, and then stiched them together just so. It was given to us as a gift.
It is comforting, warm and artful.
It is called a “crazy quilt” by people who know their coverings.
Now to the metaphor:
What if we could imagine our earthly collection of humanity as a jointed fabric of sorts—woven together by the things we share: hopes, dreams, water, air, sun, moon, food, beauty, strife, illness, hunger, love, hate, compassion, spite, courage, fear, selfishness and selflessness?
I really do understand the worldview that somehow it is more comforting to hunker down in perceived safety under a protective, homogeneous blanket, secured tight around it’s edges. I get that. But is it realistic? Is it beautiful? What about the stories that will never be written or told.
I am not bragging, but rather celebrating when I say that I have close friends who are young and who are old, who have a wide mix of religious views and thankfully are passionate about their beliefs. Friends who are of varied races, who are of varied sexual orientations. I have dear, dear friends who hold Donald Trump in the highest regard. And I have friends whose skin crawls at the mention of his name. I love them all. I’m grateful that my life is somehow stitched to theirs. I’m glad my quilt is crazy.
Is a “crazy quilt” crazy? Is it risky? Yes, that’s life. Do I believe in providence? Yes, in a weird sort of way that likely defies all logic but my own. Would I prefer the snowy white comfort of a utilitarian blanket over the crazy, wildly colored haphazardly stitched-together stories of flawed humans? Absolutely not.
Franklin Graham recently said, “Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized—and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad.”
It is also true that every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be a neighbor who contributes beautifully to the artful craziness of our American quilt, just as all who have formed this immigrant nation have.
I prefer the hope-fullness of this passage over the hopelessness of Graham’s words:
“Gather the people together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living among you—so they can listen well, so they may learn to live in holy awe before GOD, your God, and diligently keep everything in this Revelation.
And do this so that their children, who don’t yet know all this, will also listen and learn to live in holy awe before GOD, your God, for as long as you live on the land that you are crossing over [emigrate] the Jordan to possess.” —Deuteronomy 31:12-13