Sunday, February 1, 2009

Village Project: Midwife to Mother (Part I)

It is nothing short of an honor to reveal the first of two sacred and secret projects I've been working on over the past moon: a quilt, created by my New Moon sisters and me, for our dear friend (and my midwife for Big B) who is 35 weeks pregnant with her second child. About two weeks ago, she decided to return to the States from her new home in Sweden to honor a ritual we in our circle hold very dear: the Mother Blessing.A Mother Blessing is an alternative to today's traditional Baby Shower. Rather than focusing on tangible gifts for the baby, a Mother Blessing allows the new mother to receive blessings from the women in her innermost circle. These blessings are to support her journey through labor, birth, and mothering the child to come. There are a series of ceremonies, my favorite of which comes just before the closing of the circle. We weave ourselves together using a ball of red yarn. This represents the blood lines that tie us together through generations of birthing women. Each of us is left with a bracelet or anklet to tie us to the birthing mother until her baby is born, when we 'cut the cord.' This ritual inspired the communal design of the quilt.
Rose called me one night shortly after we learned of our midwife's upcoming trip. She had this great idea to make a community quilt, something she's always wanted to do. Including the midwife, there are eight of us New Moon sisters. Rose and I discussed a simple nine block patchwork. This idea morphed with the involvement of the visionary, whose concept was to have our hands painted on the quilt, so that our midwife could feel our touch so far away.
After collecting all of the handprints in alternating colors, the visionary passed the squares back to Rose, who pieced the quilt top and border (her craftsmanship is stunning, I might add). She then returned the top to the visionary for her beautiful artistic embellishment, which really tied the pieces together cohesively. Each of our hands was identified by a unique symbol and painted with the print from the center square. Then it was my turn; I received the top and quilted it with a flannel backing.
I delivered the quilt sandwich back to Rose, along with a label with all of our names and a special dedication. Rose stitched the binding and the label onto the quilt, washed it (which softened it and gave it a great antiqued look), and wrapped it in brown paper tied with the red yarn. After presenting it to our midwife this afternoon, it was time for her handprint to join the circle.
From first stitch to last, this quilt was created in less than one week. And I am so proud to say that I had a hand in it. Literally.

3 comments:

marcy said...

It was such a beautiful ceremony because the people there were so beautiful...inside and out. A wonderful experience to be treasured. Marcy

Mama Bird said...

Your work & involvement in this project was so essential and so beautiful. Thank you. I feel so blessed to have a "hand" in it too.

jacquie said...

what a treasure. thanks so much for sharing this with me.