The quilt hanging at the front of Shalom Community Church comes with a story. It begins with our desire to create a work of art for our worship space, which was then in a school. Roxanne Cross, a member of our congregation, expressed a desire that the art portray a God who spoke to all nationalities. She had recently adopted a daughter, Isabel, from Guatemala. Then Mark Salzer and Rebecca Wyse went to Nepal to bring Gayatri home, and Carolyn Holland and Mike Carbary adopted Marcos from Guatemala. We were becoming a congregation with beautiful children of different colors. And there it was – a story and a message the art could portray. We drew from our tradition and decided on a quilt.
We had a conversation with Kris Shenk, a former member of Shalom, who lives in Goshen, Indiana and works with her in-laws at Quilt Designs. With the help of a special donation, we commissioned a wall hanging that would address the theme “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and more broadly, the gathering of many races and cultures into one family of faith. Kris preferred to use form and color rather than literal images to convey this theme and evoke feelings. Her quilt is called “Intersections.” Of course, you probably see the more obvious religious features: the sun and the cross. But it is more than that. There is movement of shapes and colors and we can see what happens when they intersect with each other.
On a deeper level, the design is about faith and how our human experience intersects with the Divine. There is the movement of the Holy Spirit rushing in like wind and infusing our lives with possibility, creativity and hope. It is easy to feel hopeless and helpless when we hear of the effects of war, see disparities between rich and poor and watch our natural resources disappear. Fortunately, seeds of peace are planted when young and old and people of all nations and races agree to work together on common ground rather than oppose each other. If we allow the intersections of our experiences to be times of learning and understanding instead of stubbornness and a refusal to listen, those seeds of peace will grow and blossom.
I remember the song Jesus Loves the Little Children from my youth: “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.” A new version of that song talks about “red, brown, yellow, black and white – if you’re purple, that’s alright.” The colors from that song are used in the draping pieces that sweep across the design to remind us of the beautiful children we have here at Shalom and that all are welcome. Adding the outlines of the children’s hands not only personalized the quilt for Shalom, it also fills us with hope that this generation of our children will tend the seeds of peace and experience the power of the Holy Spirit as they creatively work to make our world a better place.