“What is your name?” I asked the quilt I made for Linda, as I tied the knots on the back of it.
But the silence was too much so I pulled up Selected Shorts on my iPhone and listened to two stories by Willa Cather. The second story “A Wagner Matinee” was about a man whose Aunt comes to visit him after leaving Boston where she was a musician, to homestead with her husband in the midwest.
She is very old when she comes back to Boston to visit her nephew and he brings her to a Wagner concert, where she gets to hear music, other than a church chorus, for the first time since she was young.
“Soon after the tenor began the “Prize Song,” I heard a quick drawn breath and turned to my aunt. Her eyes were closed, but the tears were glistening on her cheeks, and I think, in a moment more, they were in my eyes as well. It never really died, then– the soul that can suffer so excruciatingly and so interminably; it withers to the outward eye only; like that strange moss which can lie on a dusty shelf half a century and yet, if placed in water, grows green again.” From “A Wagner Matinee” by Willa Cather
I thought of my own life when I heard this passage about how the withering soul can be replenished by the nourishing sustenance. How my own soul hadn’t died, from neglect, it just became very small until I found Jon and he helped open me up to my creative self.
He was the water to my half century dusty moss.
The name for the quilt didn’t come till I hung it on the line to take a picture. Outside in the back yard, I could get much more distance (literally) from the quilt than in my studio. And when I stood back and looked, really saw the quilt, the name popped into my head.
In the quilt I see a formal walled garden. A secret garden,like in the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett. But also the garden inside of ourselves that needs to be nourished. The part that for some of us is so precious, we keep it hidden out of fear that if we let the world see it, it might be destroyed.
The garden in my quilt is formal and walled, but it also ripples out. “A series of doors within doors hovering in an in-between space, beckoning to come and explore” as Lori wrote in a message to me.
It took me years to learn that my soul might survive if I kept it hidden, but it couldn’t thrive.