Years ago (about 20), at the beginning of my quilting career, I became enamored of Amish quilts—specifically those made in Lancaster county, PA during the first half of the 20th century. After seeing the Esprit collection at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco, and then a trip to Lancaster County, I made my own version of the "Sunshine and Shadow" design, a particular favorite of mine.
In the book, Plain and Simple, author Sue Bender says, "The Amish love the Sunshine and Shadow quilt pattern. It shows two sides—the dark and light, spirit and form—and the challenge of bringing the two into a larger unity. It's not a choice between extremes: conformity or freedom, discipline or imagination, acceptance or doubt, humility or a raging ego. It's a balancing act that includes opposites." For me it has come to represent the balance of human existance—the good and the bad, the joy and the sorrow, and how they are both a part of the whole. It's not a great quilt and the colors are really not what the Amish would have used—too match-y, too tasteful—but the quilt is a symbol and reminder of those ideas.
I have realized that in writing this blog I tend to focus on sunshine and ignore the shadow. When I showed you a beautiful day at the beach I failed to mention the stench of rotting seaweed that finally drove us from the beach. In describing the fun our group had in Seattle at the Quilt Show, I purposely avoided mentioning that between viewing of quilts and exploring Seattle, I was on the phone with my distraught sister and worrying about my nephew's fractured skull and brain injury. And when I wrote about our wonderful party last weekend I skipped the part about my aunt being taken to the hospital in an ambulance and our day, following the party, with her at the hospital which concluded with a pacemaker being implanted in her chest. And today I am a little preoccupied with the news of a lovely friend's metastacized cancer. My life is good, but not perfect. My life is pretty much like yours. No matter how warm and cheering the sunshine is, the shadows are lurking.
I'll continue to focus on sunshine—you have shadows of your own and don't need mine. But, in case you are wondering, my nephew is making good, if slow, progress; my aunt just called to say she is feeling fine and happy and lucky to have her pacemaker. My friend's cancer—well, that is something we just don't know about yet.