Dec 6, 2017

Happiest of Holidays!

Listening to Christmas music and sitting by the light of our Christmas tree makes me so happy and fills me with such a deep sense of gratitude and  peace.

I remembered the beautiful Christmas poem first read by Dr. Maya Angelou at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington D.C. in 2005. That year was one of the most significant in my life as Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast it also struck so many other places in my heart and in my life.

For in the hurricanes path was my French grandmother's tiny little house near New Orleans, Louisiana. Barely big enough to be called a cottage,  my mother and father had bought it from family after her passing and had gone to visit it and it walk on its property to Bayou Teche that early September.

The property is strangely safe from all of the hurricanes that have struck the gulf coast. The bayou free of overflowing like so many others did. 

But that visit and what it brought forth in my own mother in all the fury of a true hurricane, was beyond damage control. It was the first definitive proof that my dear mother was already into Alzheimer's Disease and would need our love, support, and help for many years to come.

It was also the year that I reconnected to my love of community sewing and quilting and to a broader faith community as well as my extended families as I became a community quilter in the broadest sense when 200 of us gathered in downtown Salem, Oregon and with a bounty of blessings of fabric,interfacing and thread from the businesses in our community we created 200 quilts in a record breaking 2 days for the people who faced the adversity and destruction of that late August into September hurricane season.

I decided if I could sleep under 7 quilts (many are pulled back at night) others deserved at least one!

And this is how my true quilting journey began, in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina, our community quilters, and my community quilting journey!  We formed into groups of  light workers of many faiths all doing what we could towards extending outreach, love, hope and peace, we did our own kind of piecing and pinned, sewed and used one of 7 borrowed quilting machines to quilt and bind our quilts, even adding beautifully made labels of love and hope for the recipients, I realized that it is only by working together that we could face any challenge, any hardship, any battle to conquer the intense periods of crisis in our lives.

For the next 10 years, I create and donated an average of 25 quilts a year to charitable causes. Many of them such as those donated to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative were very small art quilts, but those tiny art quilts were used by AAQI for funding monies for Alzheimer's research and combined with many others we earned over 1 Million Dollars.II personally donated an auctioned off value of $4,500 for their research grants. My small group of 35 donated 10 times that much! It was an awesome experience!

Each step of this quilting and sewing and crafting and journey has been about art from my heart and as they say..when the heart knows, the heart knows.

And I I knew when I read it for the very first time, that this poem by Dr. Angelou ran deep and it ran meaningful...meaning-filled.

Dr. Angelou's poem, although written in the spirit of Christmas as she was herself, Christian, was fully intended to be a gift and a welcoming for people of all faiths and encourages us to celebrate and embrace the promise of hope, peace and unity during the holiday season.

The poem offers a beautiful message of acceptance and love that seems to be as current today as ever. It has the gift of opening door to others and welcoming them into our heart, our hearth and our homes as one world, one light of faith and of love.

I have both family members and friends who are of many faiths, Jewish, Muslim, Catholic...Roman, Greek and Evangelical, Protestant denominations of all kinds...Unity, Unitarian, Christian Science, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Assembly of God and many other Evangelical faiths, including several that believe that Christ was not born in December (which began as a pagan holiday and was adopted by Christians in the earliest of era of Christianity; but in the Spring in order for them to have viewed the Star of Bethlehem as the birth of the Christ Child) within their own shepherding Protestant faiths. I am blessed to have known or continue to known such a rich, rich variety of faiths. I have met several people who came to me on their own healing journeys for spiritual and energetic healing and their journey was just as rich and ran just as deep as any others..just in different ways. All paths ultimately lead to one communal altar, one shared beacon of truth and light.

I respect their beliefs and practices even if they differ from my own.So, as I light my once Druidic now considered  Christian, Christmas tree and play a variety of Christmas music from many faiths, I reread the beautiful words of that time and for all time. Dr. Angelou's poem, like all of her writings is a gift of the heart and filled with spiritual understandings and truth. It was in 2005 as it is today.

 Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.

Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.

Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortal’s, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem was first read by Dr. Angelou at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington D.C. in 2005. Although written in the spirit of Christmas, the poem is intended to be a gift for people of all faiths and encourages us to celebrate and embrace the promise of hope, peace and unity during the holiday season. The poem offers a beautiful message of acceptance and love that seems to be as current today as ever.

May Peace fill all of our hearts during this blessed season where our ancients roots....the original not often recognized pagan celebration by the Celts/Druids which was the very basis for the timing of the Christian adaptation into our holy Christmas and the strength into glory of the Jewish Peoples during Chanukah/ overlap in one season and even over one day..a special and rare event of great significance.

Holy of Holies in all ways filled with Blessings for All.....all colors, all races, all religions, all belief systems. A time for peace and acceptance and joy in all that makes us alike, and not different.

The light casts out the darkness of all of the projected shadows that seem to overwhelm our world right now. We turn those shadows into understandings about each of us and how we can be part of the solution, instead of the problem. How we can bring love, joy, and hope into the lives of others.

The deepest and darkest parts of each of our collective selves being brought for acknowledgement, transformation and as we go through this journey in time as one in these times we are facing.

The light casts them out and ushers in glory and goodness and love. For whatsoever you do to one you do to all of our brothers, our sisters, you do to your self/ourselves. Go forth today and all days and bring forth the light, the goodness, and the welcoming spirit of love.

Blessings of love and light to each and every one of you!!!

Dr. Maya Angelou was one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou was a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. Sadly, she passed away on May 28, 2014.

My quilting and sewing gifts of the season: Tutorials for the holidays we celebrate during the winter season. Click on underlined link.

Quilt, Craft, and Gift for All of the Winter Holidays!


Michele Savikko Bilyeu

December 2017

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.


Celia said...

Thank you for Maya Angelou's poem. It was new to me. Great woman and wonderful writer.

Merry Christmas Michele, and of course Peace, My Sister.

Winifred said...

Thanks for sharing that Michele, it's a beautiful post. You have a great gift for writing. Your photos are gorgeous, I especially love the old sewing machine.

O'Quilts said...

Well now, a post from you!!! Giving hope to all of us as we struggle, sharing from the great one a beautiful poem.
This is a lovely post. I am grateful for it. xo