I have spent the past week in a bit of a daze. A daze of emotions, of colors, of lights and sounds, and feelings. So very, very much has been happening in the world. Both the outside world where people I love have been once again hospitalized and others released to go home once again. An outside world where, horrible things happen to good people.
A world where people can build their dream homes whether they are rustic cabins along the edge of a river, or beautiful mansions sitting up on mountain tops and suddenly, where beauty and hope once lived, a gigantic mudslide comes crashing down, bringing the entire hillside, all of the homes, and all of its hope filled people with it.
A world where people can get on an airplane anxiously returning to loved ones, on a lovely vacation, or simply flying back and forth between places as a part of their work. And suddenly, that airplane disappears from all awareness...just like that.
One moment in time and the color of love and one's whole world can change. Just like that.
Last week, I was busy hoping and praying that my own brother would revitalize after a third, no wait, fourth visit via paramedics to his home in Eagle River, Alaska as he was once again rushed to the E.R. in Anchorage with pneumonia. The same brother that I followed through 4 hospitals in 3 states in 2011 until he was finally well enough to return home in May of 2012.
My brother got stronger after this now 5th attack of viral/bacterial pneumonia and was allowed to return to home. Then, the next day, his wife, who desperately needs a kidney transplant, who I also have written a great deal about, was at one of her tri-weekly dialysis treatments, when she "crashed and burned". Her blood pressure became so exceedingly hypertensive that she passed out and her lungs filled with fluid. Again, with both viral, and bacterial pneumonia. Now, after many days, she is home, as well.
My other sister-in-law with advanced stage 4 and metastasized lung cancer has been placed on a maintenance level of chemo, meaning they have done their best, and now let's pray for a holding pattern for as long as that is possible.
And my dear friend of 40 years, whose son was hit in a flashing pedestrian crosswalk, by an elderly man who two years later at age 91, still has never had his driver's license revoked, visits her brain damaged son, on a feeding tube, in a care home for the rest of his life. A wonderful young man, who is now 33, whose life and the lives' of all he has touched by his story, is now forever changed.
Life is filled with loss, filled with challenges. Life is filled with the color, the sounds, the feelings of love.
As I continue to make and share my prayer flags with as many as I can. I reach as high and as far, as I possibly can and the color of love in my world is sent along the winds of the volumes of love in my heart to everyone, everywhere.
My love comes to me suddenly when sad and terrible things happen to good people. My love comes to me when wonderful and happy things come to all people. One day, I am sad and using all of my gifts and all of my love to create happiness in my life and the lives of all that I love.
And then another day, when I realize that someone higher up has plans for me as I suddenly realize that my name, my textile art, my dreams and hopes, have suddenly appeared in a lot of other peoples lives..all over the world.
My name and my work was used as a reference in an international publication (Working Preacher) used by ministers for creating sermons! The connection was the parable of the "Blind Man" and how, my quilt symbolized the ability to see through the layers of Alzheimer's Disease (called it the Johannine gift of double illumination) and all of its ragged and jagged edges, to the golden layer of my 'true' and 'real' mother, within.
Yep, that is exactly why I put that metallic gold ..can you see it there, within the cracks of the illusion of all of those tangles and plaques of Alzheimer' Disease??? And yes, how lovely, that lovely man, this gifted sermon-maker, truly 'got' my little art quilt, and really my purpose for blogging about my mother, about the disease process, and about how my mother was 'still there'. Because when you go within the stillness, that is where truth really is. Between the cracks, between the layers, it just is. That is where you find it all. And sometimes, it takes a lot of pain, a lot of challenges, to crack you open wide enough for the light to come in and then...you see it all. You feel it all. But as they say, that truth also sets us free. Free to love, to see the colors of love, and not the illusion that people wear.
And suddenly, in one week, Lutheran (all over the U.S. including Hawai'i) pastors are writing me and asking me for more information and permission to use my name and one of my small format art quilts in their Sunday sermons.
And then, suddenly...other pastors, in other churches, United Methodist Church (UMC) and Mennonite, and other, yet...suddenly used my "Mama's Brain..." on the covers of their church bulletins (and no, they did not ask me first ;-) and mentioned me, and my quilt, and what and how I wrote about it, and my mothers 'disease' and how I still saw her for who she truly was, and not what she appeared to have become...in more and more church sermons, and downloadable pdf's and on the front of handouts, and newsletters online..and it just keeps growing.
The message, that I feel so blessed to be a conduit for, just grows. And then I understand why. Yes, it's because of my blog, and my message of giving on my blog, and of sharing, and of how I was never afraid of my mother, of her illness, of being and doing for her, even when it was so very, very challenging. But it was because, deep down inside as well as on the outside, I never, ever, ever saw my mother as her disease.
This was not my mother with Alzheimer's Disease, this was simply my mother wearing an illusion of something that so many fear, walk away from, can't bear to go and visit at care homes everywhere.
This was my mother. And because I never stopped simply seeing the real truth of who she was, I was never afraid of her, or the illness that others saw and always connected with her. And I still do. I still do. And it is a blessing.
But most of all, that the work of my hands and of my heart, the giving and sharing of love for my mother, for my father, for my sister-in-laws, and brothers, for all people everywhere, would and could make a difference. And it does. It just plain does.
Love makes a difference.
So, yes, what we do and how we do it and all whose lives we touch..the seen and the unseen..we make a difference with our practice of love.
My love is all colors, all shapes, all sizes, all different kinds of love in all different kinds of ways. And I show that love by making and giving away small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for people I love as well as for a variety of charitable programs.
What color is the color of love in your world?
Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes. Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!