Monday, January 28, 2008
The Quiltmakers Gift and the Power of Giving
I love to take my children to the library, especially my youngest son. We scour the shelves for books with bright pictures and lively stories - not too short and not too long since he's still a toddler. Sometimes I discover one that touches my heart.
The Quiltmakers Gift by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken is such a book. This is a charming fable that celebrates the joy of giving by pitting a generous quiltmaker with magic in her fingers against a greedy king who demands gifts from everyone in his town.
Even though the king has everything he is searching for one special gift that will make him happy and he believes it's a quilt from the quiltmaker who lives high in the mountains. When he threatens her with bears and drowning, she smiles and says that she never sells her quilts. She won't give him one either because they are for those who have nothing and he has everything.
She tells the king that each time he gives away one of his treasures to someone else she will put a piece in a quilt for him. Eventually, the king learns that giving made him happy in a way that receiving never could.
Since the publication of The Quiltmakers Journey and The Quiltmakers Gift, the authors began collecting stories of generosity and sharing from around the world. Some people were inspired to act after reading the two books. Others wrote into the website to tell stories of generous people and organizations who reminded them of the quiltmaker in the books.
One such group was Fresh Youth Initiative of New York City. Since 1995 the youth of Washington Heights have gathered together to make sleeping bags for distribution to homeless people in their neighborhood. Andrew Rubinson says that nearly 1,000 youth have participated in making 400 hand sewn sleeping bags. These children are like the Quiltmaker who walked the darkness putting blankets on the shoulders of people sleeping in the streets.
I stumbled upon another group that carries on the tradition of the Quiltmaker. I don't know if the women of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and Ministry from Chapel Hill, NC, have ever read the Quiltmakers Gift. They certainly embody her spirit by making quilts that they've donated to Lutheran World Relief, hurricane disaster relief programs, nurseries at local hospitals, and grade school children in need.