The Power of Three

By: Marcy Barthelette

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20

I was twenty-eight years old and seven months pregnant when we lost my dad. It was heartbreaking to realize he’d never see his new granddaughter and she would never know the love he would have showered on her. Just as heartbreaking was hearing my mom lamenting that she would most miss the long talks the two of them shared in the evenings. It stands to reason that she would search for something to fill those lonely evenings when she came home from the busyness of her secretarial job to a much too quiet house, and one that likely didn’t feel much like home anymore.

She found her answer at her church by joining a quilting group, whose members welcomed her with open arms. Though she’d never made a quilt in her life, it was a natural fit. During my childhood years, she had made all my clothing and she did it on an old-fashioned treadle sewing machine. Many of you may be unfamiliar, but the machine is foot-powered by a swinging treadle near the floor, which transfers the energy by belt to a wheel near the top of the machine. There’s a certain rhythm to the process that I could never master, but mom, on the other hand, couldn’t make the transition to an electric machine. As I grew up, she grew away from sewing,

But it’s much like riding a bike. The skills you develop lie dormant somewhere in the back of your memory until one day you call them up again; think of it as downloading a folder from the cloud. Even when Mom used her treadle machine, there was a certain amount of the prep and finish work that was accomplished by hand. There was a lot of patching done in those days, as well, so she was no stranger to needle, thread, pin cushion, and thimble. She felt right at home cutting colorful patches from all kinds of leftover fabric, outgrown clothing filled with memories, or combinations of new fabrics, and then hand stitching them together to create dazzling patterns. Her first experiments were small items such as potholders or wall hangings, but eventually she was making full sized quilts, and they were lovely. I still have several and others are scattered among family members.  

Think about the anatomy, if you will, of a quilt. It begins with a top that is artistically pieced to enhance the chosen color palette and an intricate design. Under the completed cover goes a lofty batting, today’s choice is polyester, that provides lift as well as warmth on a cold winter night. Lastly, the quilter adds a backing that is color coordinated to the pieces in the top design. Ideally, the three layers are then attached to a wooden frame where they can be stretched and held tautly while a group of quilters gathers round the frame to add tiny hand stitches in a specific pattern throughout the quilt. The quilting pattern adds stability to the filler and another layer of creativity to the overall appearance. The more stitches a quilter can place onto her needle at once is a good indicator of her (or his) expertise. Obviously, the quilters must be in tune with one another to avoid making mistakes.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

The strength, comfort, and utility of a quilt can be used to illustrate The Holy Trinity. Just as the quilt gains its qualities from its three layers, so The Holy Trinity provides for us from three sources. God the Father, Jesus the son, and The Holy Spirit embody everything we need to live life in the way we were created to live. There is always strength in numbers, whether in reference to a rope made of multiple strands twisted together or the people in our lives who support us when we stumble and things get tough. Having an extra level or layer of strength makes any job or trial easier and we can rest assured the Father, Son and Holy Spirit never leave our side. Just as those women in my mom’s quilting circle propped her up when she needed a new spark in her life, so can your church family help you through difficult times. The church is the living hands and feet of The Holy Trinity.

The strings that tie us to the people we love are the ropes that pull us up when life gets hard.

The most beautiful view in the world is the sight of the faces who show up for you no matter what.

Bob Goff, Live In Grace, Walk In Love

Leave a Reply