Saturday, 1 March 2014

Of Dreams and Dormancy

This is the second part of the story of my quilting journey.
The snowdrops were blooming, the daffodils were peeking out of the dirt, and we were all geared up for spring. Then it snowed for three solid days. Our yard is back to being white and lifeless, and we’ll have to wait a little longer before we can celebrate.

This waiting is hard. It reminds me a little of life, and the false starts, the stops and pauses, the delays we experience in our pursuit of dreams.

Last week I began the story of my quilting journey. At age 40, I made my first quilt. Life was filled with good things: career, children, marriage, an interesting community life and various involvements. Quilting was one of those good things. I loved creating bed quilts, banners for church seasons, small wall hangings and gifts.

But there came a time when I realized that while I’d been busy, life had gone ahead and shifted beneath my feet. The kids left home, my career was winding down, and the resident sweetie decided to take early retirement. My inner life was shifting too: at a time when I thought I should have accumulated a store of life wisdom, I was left with more questions than ever. Life was changing like the seasons; while I wasn’t looking, summer had turned to autumn.

It was time to refocus, to figure out the answer to “what’s next?” In my first post on this blog (June 30, 2013), I wrote about that – how Al and I set off on a camping trip down the West coast, which I decided would also be a “vision quest” of sorts. I would  journal, read, pray, think, ask big questions, and keep my ears and my heart open as I set off in search of a new dream. Almost immediately, in a small art gallery, I found a painting of a woman who was me! (She even had my lumpy, bumpy back and big bottom.) I bought it and set it up in the trailer. She appeared to be, like me, gazing into an unknown future.

Untitled watercolour by Cheryl Ruehl, purchased at the Yakima Bay Art Association gallery in Newport Oregon.
Weeks went by, but no answers came. Waiting is hard. Dormancy is hard. It looks like nothing is happening. Like my back yard, the beginnings of new growth are buried and all appears dead.

On that trip, I resolved some important issues, but I couldn’t find the answer to “what’s next?” Just when I’d decided my vision quest was fruitless, the answer was given to me. (I can’t explain this, I just accept it gratefully.) I would devote my energies to a project that combined my loves of writing and quilting to communicate my passion for personal and spiritual growth. What would that project would look like? A book? A stunning quilt? A book with quilted pictures illustrating my thoughts on important issues for women? I didn’t know the specifics, but I knew with deep certainty that somehow, somewhere, this would happen. This is how dreams are born.

When I look back, I am astonished by the audacity of this dream. I was a woman who had never taken a quilting course, who had no degree in women’s studies, who wasn’t well connected in either the writing or quilting world. There was no leg-up or tie in with my career.  What possesses such a woman to believe she can do such a thing? And yet, there it was: a vision of a better future that I believed would be mine some day.

Between the time that a dream is born, and the time that it comes to reality, there may be a long time, again, of dormancy and waiting, with just a few glimpses of the future glimmering on the horizon.  One of those glimpses came almost immediately when we visited a quilt museum in La Conner, Washington, where I saw my first issue of a magazine called Quilting Arts. It was as though a thousand volts of electricity zapped my circuits: wow! Wow! WOW! This was quilting of a whole different kind, using fabrics and fibres to make beautiful pieces of art. “I want to do that!” I breathed. It was a prayer as much as a wish. Here was the next step I would have to take in my quilting journey to make my dream come true.

I didn’t know then how much more waiting I would have to do before I finally began working on my dream – 7 years of stops and starts and pauses, of dormancy, and a winter storm or two, but you are reading the fruition of a dream right now. To you, it may be just another blog; to me, it is the fulfillment of a dream. And it fills me with joy to be able to do this.

In the meantime, I’m aware that my life is moving on from autumn into winter. I do not know about the “what’s next?” after this. But I trust that there are more seeds planted in my life garden, probably hiding under the snow, but ready to burst into life when the time comes.

Who knows what the Creator of Life Gardens has in store for us?

I have chosen a piece of fibre art by Lorraine Roy to illustrate my thoughts. Lorraine has created this piece in support of A Rocha, a Christian environmental organization. 10 artists will be displaying works in support of A Rocha at Carnegie Gallery in Dundas Ontario March 7-30. For more information see "Upcoming Events" on Lorraine's web page at

Fencerow #1 by Lorraine Roy.

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