The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Tales of scrapbookers and quilters

Recently my good friend related how he has a thick scrapbook of interesting articles, well-written pieces and collected items of intellectual gravity. It reflects his journey of the mind over the past decade.

And on a recent Sunday a trio of retired ELCA pastors stood at the back of the sanctuary to comment on the sermon content. In the brief encounter one said that he thought the sermon "stitched together" many thoughts from far and near (of global and local significance).

The other said, "Isn't that our task at the end of our lives?"

"Yes," I said, like the quilters mentioned in the sermon, a heroic bunch who had put together hundreds of quilts this past year for Lutheran World Relief.

Two end-of-life metaphors — scrapbooks and quilts. These are collages, pastiches, pasted and stitched together tokens of our life meaning, experience and lessons. Perhaps our own truth. This is our last baptismal task.

As a child I liked the connect-the-dots puzzles. Late in life I've returned to that game of connecting the dots. These dots are ideas, thought experiments, conceptualizations of philosophy, theology and other disciplines that seem to meet, separate, converge again and then turn and squiggle along some more. In a strange way they are a pattern. At least in my mind. Like an imaginary quilt.

Now scrapbooking has become an art. An industry, as the retailer, Hobby Lobby, will tell you. As soon as a folk art form becomes a club art, it seems to lose a vital spontaneity and spark. It becomes another chore. Well, maybe not. Some scrapbookers I know are a grim and driven lot.

The whole purpose of a metaphor is to quicken, give zest, perk up the imagination — motivate. The Spirit of God is the Motivator. The Holy Motivator — not a dull habit but a Divine Cathexis.

The virtual quilt that I am currently stitching together won't be finished. It has no borders. For someone else it may not even have a pattern. That is OK. My current description (not definition) of life itself is messy. But what a glory (John Steinbeck). My glory — my life's hopes and dreams, in all their foolishness and bustedness.

As to my life — that is for others to judge (if they care). It could never be contained — not in a scrapbook, a quilt's design or even in the brief summary of the allotment of years themselves. Like a soliloquy of Shakespeare, a riff by Mozart or a poem by Emily Dickinson — life as a mirage. A shimmering sunlit quiver and quake on the sands of a desert. A thing of glory yet to be revealed (Romans 8:18).

Check out this week's articles:

cover3Going, going ... gone?: (right) What happened to respect and how do we get it back?

Respect rut: Parents and kids find respect is a two-way street.

Has technology made it worse?: Being disrespectful has never been easier.

Choosing godparents: Now what?

    Also: Fraudulent privilege.

    Also: Nearly $1 million for Zimbabwe.

     Also: In touch with nature.

Read these articles at our front page ...

Holy Land blog

Daniel LehmannThe Lutheran's editor, Dan Lehmann (right), blogs from Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

He's traveling with bishops from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.


Last chance to tell us how you pray.

Friday, January 16, is your last chance to contribute to our articles on prayer. How does prayer sustain you? Have you tried new prayer methods (prayer journals, centering prayer, etc.)? What forms of prayer do you use now? What’s most helpful? Do you have a special place to pray? Do you have a story of the power of prayer in your life? Or how have your prayers on behalf of someone else contributed to healing or transformation in his or her life? What would you like to know about prayer?

Send your 200-300 word stories and comments by e-mail or to Sonia C. Solomonson, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631.

Or respond online …

The January issue of The Little Lutheran has arrived!

TLL JanuaryDon't let them miss another issue.

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Adults, you will want this for the children in your life. Pastors and congregations, you will want this for education and evangelism. See how you can subscribe for nearly half the price.

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February issue


Embracing diversity