Monday, February 2, 2009

Eight Hands Around
The thought of "eight hands around" brings up lots of images. One friend suggested that it refers to my four children and though I love that idea, I had not thought of it! The name is the title of the quilt store that I wrote about in my novel Solomon's Puzzle. And like all the titles in the book, this also came from the practice of sewing quilts. Not only is it the name of a quilt block, but it also brings to mind the image of women gathering together around a quilt -- one on each side -- together to stitch the three soft layers.
My thought is to encourage a community of creativity and giving as inspired by the historic practice women helping to finish an important project. In my book, the quilt shop owner and her husband join with the members of their town "to finish" or redeem a boy who is awakening to the truth about himself. As well, the quilt shop owner has organized a kind of underground system of giving that lifts hearts in her home town, Annapolis. With a great deal of art, love and beauty the women of Eight Hands Around quietly respond to needs such as a family without heat or with illness or in despair. The project to be finished, in this use of the title, is the biblical commandment to care for the poor. In my novel then, Eight Hands Around is what in my literature class I would call a controlling image-- a motif, an idea that appears again and again in a different shades, sizes or slants, creating color, complexity, pattern and meaning.
But just as quilters like to work on many quilts, we have many projects in our hands at all times. We are creating beautiful homes, we are loving our families and hoping to create a picture of heaven in them and through them. Who can do this alone?!
I can never make a decorating decision by myself. I have to discuss my dream for the space, stand with friends and family and imagine the slant of the sunlight. It is their presence that helps me think. When my daughter in law, Andrea, called me on Friday to say she was abandoning a decorating project, her frustration was dispelled by a quick brainstorming meeting where our discussion-- with measuring tape and fabric swatches --clarified her vision. I think she has a to-do list, now.
In the past week, I've been encouraged the requests of Valerie, Andrea, Jackie, Care, Stefanie, Karlene, Heather and Jada to hear my thoughts. For me writing is compelling, but difficult. Their kindness in asking about my novel or urging me to start a blog has been like friends gathering to help me put together the bits of beauty and pattern I've created. But more so, by gathering around me, by lifting the burden of doubt from my shoulders they have made me able to drawn in good, fresh air. So, my hope is that this blog will inspire us to come together in prayer and practice.


  1. when I saw that you'd created a blog, the first emotion that came to me was relief. I thought, "ahh, finally. some thoughtful writing from a deep and caring heart." this is such a blessing.
    I love this thought you've put out here. life IS best when we work on things together, helping each other, teaching and learning from one another. thank you for validating this experience of home making. it's a challenging pursuit, often made more difficult by those who look down upon it. in my heart I feel the deep blessing of this calling, but sometimes my head and hands need to hear that this work is lasting, important, and sacred. reading this renews my confidence to do the dishes, rearrange my cupboards, and teach my son about Love. thank you :)

  2. How true! I am so glad you are working on the blog and I hope you have some time to work on the novel. I can't wait to see it published. Thanks for sharing!