Feb16SnowSnow fell on Vanaprastha yesterday, covering the greenhouse windows in the dining room. Across the region, schools closed and many activities cancelled including last night’s writing group in Charlottesville and this morning’s Bible Study in Nellysford. Weather conditions precluded social interaction.

In our agrarian past, isolation was often the norm. It didn’t take ice or snow to keep rural people from seeing one another. Thus, men and women looked for opportunities to socialize during community activities such as barn raisings and dances, Sunday school picnics and quilting bees.

Last Saturday, about twenty women of Bethany Lutheran Church in Waynesboro gathered in the Fellowship Room to make quilts for Lutheran World Relief. At any given time, fabric for pinning covered four or five tables and two or three sewing machines did the finishing. A respectable twenty-five quilts was the count by the end of the day.

People in need will gain comfort and warmth by holding those quilts. And women like me benefit from making them. My grandmothers had talent with the needle, and both my sisters, too. But that gene skipped me. Other than minor repairs, sewing on buttons or a quick seam, I have no skill.

Unlike quilting bees of the past where expertise with the needle was a requisite, my hands are welcome. Others match the top and bottom sheets; I trim batting. Others align the three layers; I smooth and follow along with pins. Others thread needles and place ties; I tie knots. They chat about family and friends, sewing machines, fabric stores and craft projects; I collect stories.

Quilting PartyNineteenth century quilting bees lasted all day and ended with the arrival of the men for supper, singing and dancing – a Quilting Party as in this American primitive painting. Children frolicked, women gossiped, young people courted.

Quilting at church attracts few men and children. Second and fourth Saturdays from January through March, women show up between 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. We take turns bringing snacks for mid-morning break and desserts for sack lunch in the early afternoon. As women come and go, hand work, conversation and prayers continue throughout the day.

SnowFeb17Today, electronic communications keep us in touch with one another. But there is nothing like a mission shared face-to-face. It stitches together a blessing as beautiful as snowfall across mountains, trees and fields.


  1. Carol Cutler

    This is a heart warming story on a sunny, but cold day. How lucky to be part of the quilting group at this point in your life after you have contributed to enriching the lives of so many young people by your past teaching and counseling work! Carry on….

  2. Carole Duff

    Many thanks, my friend, and stay warm! -C.D.

  3. Martha Tobias

    Thank you Carole for sharing your thoughts on our quilting project. It is such a warm feeling when we gather together to make something for someone far away who may not own anything but this quilt that we put together with many hands and hearts. As I sew the bindings on the quilts I try to imagine the woman (or man or child) who will one day hold and hug this quilt to their heart and feel the love that we all put into it as we gathered, shared and loved one another.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you for your lovely comment, and for all you do for others.



  1. Re-Vision | Notes from Vanaprastha - […] for Lutheran World Relief began this past Saturday at church—see this previous post. Thursday and Friday’s warmer temperatures had…

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