Column #36

The Labyrinth Quilt—A Meditative Endeavor

Kate

When Glenda Anderson moved from watery Wilmington, Delaware to the high, dry desert of Tucson, Arizona in 2002, it was a time not only of physical change, but of spiritual transition as well. To mark that passage, Glenda decided to make a quilt that symbolized both journeys, and she chose a labyrinth as the quilt’s theme.

A labyrinth is an ancient circular design probably best known as a main feature of European Roman Catholic churches built during the Middle Ages, the most famous of which exists at Chartres Cathedral near Paris, France. Built of stones inlaid in the floor of the cathedral and consisting of a circuitous path that leads to a central point, the labyrinth served as a metaphor for a spiritual journey and people would walk its winding pathway as a pilgrimage for repentance. Today, labyrinths have gained new popularity among those who use them as a tool for “walking meditation.” Lauren Artress, the author of three books on the subject, describes the labyrinth as “a watering hole for the spirit.”

Glenda became interested in labyrinths when she was still living in Delaware, recalling that when “the Unitarian Church in Newark, Delaware, opened their new canvas labyrinth for the community, I would go there regularly to walk. The pastor of my church experienced the labyrinth during a doctoral program he was attending in San Francisco, and when he found out I already knew about labyrinths, he corralled me into helping him make one for our church. Before it was dedicated, he died of cancer, leaving me with the task of getting the program started at the church. I then got certified as a labyrinth facilitator through Veriditas/Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. The rest is history. The program is still going strong at that church. My husband and I also spearheaded the installation of an outdoor labyrinth at a local church here in Tucson. I have found the labyrinth a very necessary adjunct to my spiritual growth.”

Her church was also instrumental in Glenda’s introduction to quilting: “I learned to quilt in 1987 when the women of the church I belonged to in Wilmington, Delaware, decided to make a quilt in celebration of the church's 250 anniversary. After we all made our squares, we intended to send the quilt to nearby Amish Country to have it hand quilted, as few of us had ever quilted before. Well, we had a ‘learn how to hand quilt’ session one night and decided we could do it ourselves. One of the women set up a quilt frame in her living room and we would go over when we had time to quilt it. That was when I fell in love with hand quilting. Now, it is a meditative endeavor for me. I am happiest when I put the first stitches in a new quilt.”

Glenda’s choice of featuring a labyrinth as the central idea for a quilt seemed particularly appropriate—a meditation about a meditation, if you will. When asked to compare the benefits derived from quilting with those achieved by walking a labyrinth, she replied, “It seemed to me that the inspiration I receive from walking the labyrinth has a more tangible effect on my life than a sitting meditation where one tries to suspend any and all awareness of physicality. In walking the labyrinth, there is usually an intention involved that one invokes during the process. Now, a meditative experience while quilting is more passive. I have a feeling of peace and calmness come over me, which is relaxing. There is no intention involved here. But any type of meditation, in my opinion, should result in thinning the veil between the spiritual and physical. By thinning the veil, we will become aware that we are all one and will treat each other with more love and compassion and we will have more balance between our physical and spiritual lives. We are, after all, both physical and spiritual beings while living here on earth.”

 

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Archived blogs:

Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
Column 109: Community Cookbooks and Fundraiser Quilts—Parallel Histories
Column 108: Quilting to Freedom
Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
Column 105: A Call for a National Juneteenth Commemorative Quilt
Column 104: Dominoes
Column 103: 1936 Texas Centennial Bluebonnet Quilt
Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
Column 101: Montana CattleWomen Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
Column 99: Montana Stockgrowers Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 98: The Tobacco Sack Connection
Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery
Column 92: The Ballerina Quilter
Column 91: Grandmother's Flower Garden Comes Alive at Texas Quilt Museum
Column 90: Leitmotif for a Lifelong Love Affair
Column 89: Quilting in The Bahamas
Column 88: Joan of Arc: A Quilter's Inspiration
Column 87: Home Demonstration Clubs and Quilting
Column 86: Linzi Upton and the Quilted Yurt
Column 85: A Bounty of Quilts
Column 84: Desert Trader
Column 83: Quilts and the Women’s Liberation Movement
Column 82: Replicating the Past: Reproduction Fabrics for Today’s Quilts
Column 81: Why So Many Quilt Shops in Bozeman, Montana?
Column 80: Southeastern Quilt and Textile Museum
Column 79: 54 Tons of Quilt
Column 78: Ollie Steele Burden’s Quilt Blocks
Column 77: Quilting with AMD
Column 76: Maverick Quilts and Cowgirls
Column 75: The Modern Quilt Guild—Cyberculture Quilting Ramps Up
Column 74: The Membership Quilt—Czech Quilting in Texas
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Column 72: Author: Terri Thayer
Column 71: The Christmas Quilt
Column 70: New Mexico Centennial Quilt
Column 69: Scrub Quilts
Column 68: “Think Pink” Quilt Raises Funds for Rare Cancer Research
Column 67: Righting Old Wrongs.
Column 66: 100 Years, 100 Quilts - More on the Arizona Centennial.
Column 65: Arizona Centennial Quilt Project
Column 64: Capt. John Files Tom’s Family Tree
Column 63: The Fat Quarters
Column 62: Quilt Fiction Author: Clare O’Donohue
Column 61: Louisiana Bicentennial Quilt
Column 60: The Camo Quilt Project.
Column 59: Thread Wit
Column 58: Ralli Quilts
Column 57: Preschool Quilters
Column 56: The Story Quilt
Column 55: Red and Green Quilts
Column 54: On the Trail
Column 53: Quilt Trail Gathering
Column 52: True Confessions: First Quilt
Column 51: Quilted Pages
Column 50: Doll Quilts
Column 49: More Than a Quilt Shop
Column 48: Las Colchas of the Texas-Mexico Border
Column 47: Literary Gifts
Column 46: A Different Way of Seeing
Column 45: Sampling
Column 44: Hen and Chicks
Column 43: A Star Studied Event
Column 42: Shoo Fly Pattern
Column 41: Awareness Quilts
Column 40: Tivaevae
Column 39: UnOILed UnspOILed Coast Quilt Project
Column 38: Katrina Recovery Quilts
Column 37: Quilted Vermont
Column 36: The Labyrinth Quilt—A Meditative Endeavor

See other archived columns here

 

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