Wednesday, October 04, 2017

On Icons, the Amish and Me

Relics, left to right: Bl. Francis X Seelos, St.
Peter Chanel (above globe), St. Therese,  St
Maria Goretti, St Ignatius of Loyola (at the 
feet of O.L. of Montserrat!). Bl Alberione's
relic is out visiting the sick.
Since I moved here to Boston (almost three years ago?!) and set up my little "altar" in the office, I have wanted to provide the saints' relics and statues a somewhat more dignified treatment than having them perennially posed upon a plastic spice rack. And so after a twenty year gap, I again picked up my embroidery thread and cross-stitch fabric to make an ecclesiastical style carpet for the office shrine. I determined on a motif of fleur-de-lis and crosses, in colors truly fitting the nobility of the persons represented on those plastic risers.

Part of the fun of cross-stitch for me is making my own pattern, even if it is cobbled together from bits I found online. So I found a basic fleur-de-lis pattern and enhanced it with some shading. (I'm still working on what kind of border to use, but I definitely want one!) I chose regal colors: gold and burgundy (you can't see it yet; that will be the background), and then I started stitching away.

The pattern I came up with calls for eight fleur-de-lis surrounded by randomly positioned Greek crosses. I finished the last of the fleurs last week, and I can assure you that no two are exactly alike.

That was not the plan.

My sister Mary tells me, "That's the charm of handmade items." The sisters here assure me, "The Amish always put an error in their quilting." Granted. And from time immemorial, iconographers have always left an incomplete patch on the image as a sign of human imperfection. I suppose I have surpassed them all, since I do not need to include a deliberate inconsistency in my needlework!

One day, when the burgundy has filled the background, and the fleurs-de-lis and crosses have been outlined and gold, and the blessed saints and martyrs have taken their place on it, not even I will see the manifold mistakes that will have been so carefully stitched on the Aida fabric. Even now, just seeing the crosses start to fill out the background gives me a little thrill. And as I look at it (with all the mistakes only I can see), I have to admit: God sees our life like this. He knows the original plan; he sees the misplaced stitches--and yet he still finds joy in having us as his children.

And we with all our fumbling, all our errors and even sins, are still giving him glory.

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