My mother-in-law has many gifts and talents, among which is a passion for quilting. Browsing through the used bookstore recently, I picked up a title that I thought would help me better understand what makes a quilt worthy of regard.
“Plain and Simple” is a true story of an urban California woman, Sue Bender, who developed an obsession for the Amish and eventually lived among their people to discover their unique culture for herself. The curiosity was initiated in the 1960s over a spectacular Amish quilt hanging in a department store. Years later, in the fall of 1981, Sue found three strange looking dolls in a folk art gallery store. She learned these dolls originated from the Amish and over a six month period received twelve of these dolls from seven different women.
Sue observed that the dolls had no face. They were silent and serene. There was no pecking order. None was better or worse than the others. They didn’t have to perform or prove anything. No voice said, “Be happy, cute, or pretty.” No voice said, “Be a star.”
She continues… “In my world, everyone has a face, and many of us try to stand out. In their simplicity, these faceless dolls said more with less. They left more to the imagination. Maybe accepting who they are, they don’t waste their strength trying to change or compete.”
I’m reading this book to my daughters. My twelve year old has developed a talent for crocheting. She has made dozens of her own stuffed animals and other clever creations. Yesterday, she presented me with a surprise gift, a faceless doll.
Adding to the depth of her message, and a lesson for all, was a message born of pure childlike innocence best explained in her handwritten letter.
“P.S. I know the bag says, ‘Happy Birthday’ on it, just ignore it!”
“P.P.S. I also know it says, ‘To Skyla, Love Grammy and Grampy on it, ignore that too!”
“P.P.P.S. I LOVE YOU!”
What a great way to magnify the message of a faceless doll. We just need to learn what to ignore. Truth be told, I didn’t even notice the elements of the bag she was asking me to overlook. Fancy bows and glittery gifts stopped catching my eye many years ago, but there is a lot more work to do in the art of “overlooking.” Even though I know we are all crafted from crooked timber, I still spend too much time marveling over the incompetence of humanity at large.
THE CHALLENGE: Noah’s ark couldn’t have smelled very appealing, but it was much safer inside than out in the storm. Maybe your workplace stinks. Maybe your family stinks. Maybe your school stinks. When a patch or stitch in your quilt stinks, approach it like an ark. Approach it like a faceless doll. Approach it like the wise innocence of a twelve-year-old child who knows what to look beyond in order to get to the real gift and message! A “faceless” approach will allow you to “FACE LESS” of the unnecessary noise, drama, and distractions of a turbulent world.