It has been a long complex journey, this life I have lived. 85 years and counting. A good long life stitched together like one of my Grandmother Kirk’s crazy quilts fashioned with odd, seemingly unrelated patches of fabric from dozens of named and unnamed garments, stitched together with that old-fashioned feather stitch, so popular in the age of crazy quilts. A stitch that held together the random pieces until out of the old something wholly new emerged. When finished they lay on family beds where they made perfect sense.

I am the child of Abolitionists, Quakers, Methodist ministers, educators, fighters for civil rights, Kansas farmers, immigrants who came to this country from Germany and Scotland to escape poverty and find hope. I have had the privilege of this wondrous crazy quilt inheritance and have added my own patches that have spanned the years of the great depression, unending wars, rights gained, rights lost, technological advancement beyond imagination. I have watched the disregard for the planet bring us dangerously close to the edge of extinction and I have been enchanted with the discoveries that have opened the universe to the total mystery of life.

I have changed and been changed, again and again. I am not the child that grew up in the beauty of the Colorado mountains but I carry her in my being. Her innocence and wonder rest deep within me and form the bedrock of who I am today. I have been changed by all the people, places and events of this time between 1934 and 2019.

In the past I have lived the life of a housewife, birthing and raising children. I married a wise and loving man who saw and supported my hunger to grow and learn as well as nurture, who encouraged me to explore and expand. Never quite sure where my longings were leading me, barely noticing the risks, I charged ahead into uncharted territories.

The stitches are the people, in and out of my life, the thread that gives my life meaning. They make it all make sense. I was nurtured by wise women who helped me see alternative ways to be a woman in a changing world.

People were always at the center of what motivated me. I entered the world of psychology in order to find more understanding of myself and those around me. This led me into adolescent counseling and ten years as psychological counselor in a private girls’ school.

My church, the Episcopal Church, sent me off, as a lay woman, to learn about systems and how people could learn to live better in community. I was drawn more and more to the ministry and was ordained to the Priesthood in 1986. I have served in various capacities and communities as a Priest, from Dallas, Texas, to Massachusetts, to Maine, to Arizona. A true crazy quilt of wonder and challenge.

With my “life quilt” coming to completion, (at least at the far end of the project), I look back and see this crazy quilt map of my life and it makes me laugh to see how both planned and unplanned it has been, and how much energy I expended thinking I was responsible for making it all turn out right. It has flowed with its own rhythm and made its own way and had I trusted that flow a bit more, I surely would have laughed more and worried less. When I reflect on the mix, the constants as well as the disjointed fragments that seemed to go nowhere – the losses and disappointments that threatened to overtake, the joys that appeared unbidden, the kindnesses that always seemed to appear when most needed – when I think of all this, my life seems to be a crazy quilt of blessing, not exactly planned but received.

Now is the time I have been given to rest and reflect, to live in a state of gratitude. If not now, when? It is a whole new challenge to live into the quieter life – and again, it is the people who give it meaning, the threads that hold it and me together. My children, grandchildren, friends new and old continue to call me into this mystery called life.

My rock is my beloved spouse Dorothy, the surprise gift in these latter years. It is the listening and being listened to, in love, that completes a well lived life. My life had sorrows, disappointments, challenges, losses and joys, so many joys, but it has never, never, been boring. Who could have predicted such a crazy quilt life? For every stitch, for every added piece of fabric I am grateful.