Tag Archives: talents

Generations: a Four Patch Block

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Patch One

When my mother died in 1994 I inherited her stash of quilting fabrics. Since she lived by the premise, “She who dies with the most fabric, wins,” this was quite a substantial treasure. My two sisters and I – and our children – were the lucky recipients of her quilting and sewing projects over the years.

Not long after her death I had a dream in which my sisters and I were tense, still grief stricken and frantically scurrying about her house trying to get the chaos tamed before trucks came to remove all her belongings. I kept opening closets and bureaus and cedar chests and from each of them flounced out quilt after quilt she’d made for us. I hollered to my sisters, “It’s going to be okay! Look! She left us so many comforters!”

That word “comforters” was so blissfully layered with immediate meaning. Her warmth, her love, her creativity, her spirit – as well as the Spirit was overflowing and consoling at a much-needed time. Continue reading

Turf Wars, Talents and Spiritual Gifts

Photo by Royce Bair

In the last 30 years, I have been a member of about a dozen different wards.  With each move, I must establish new friendships and create a niche among my fellow saints. Church is a place for shared faith, but it is also a place where many perform a skill that may or may not be related to one’s professional training.  If it’s a skill that a sister does not use at work, this often makes church a particularly important venue for expressing that skill.

In each ward I’ve attended, I see sisters who are known for one of these skills: the sister who arranges the flowers at ward events, the sister who can cook for a crowd, the sister who sings solos, the sister who grows vegetables, and so on.  I admit that I often strive to establish the following identities: the sister who creates flyers, the sister who reads the most, and the sister who keeps good records.   If I move into a ward and another set of sisters occupy all three of these positions, I find myself in a panic. I don’t sing, I can’t decorate anything, and I don’t know how to cook for more than six people.  Yes, I want to be useful, but I also want to be unique.

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Munching on a Parable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The parable of the talents bugs me, so I have spent some time wrestling with it, chomping on it, working some useful meaning from it into my bones.

I like that that the wealthy man gives the same reward to both servants who actually do something productive with what he’s given them:
Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Being a “ruler over many things” isn’t necessarily the future I want, but I just interpret that as “good stuff happens.” And I’m all over entering into the joy of the lord.

However, the poor third risk-averse guy recognizes that his boss has some markers of a personality disorder.

The servant knows the master is “hard.” (In fact the master admits he doesn’t have the most scrupulous business practices!) The boss doesn’t give him any instructions on what to do with the money; he just expects to collect it when he gets back. And heaven forbid the servant should lose the money in a venture gone wrong! So the servant does what he thinks safest to make sure nothing bad happens to it: he buries it. Can we really fault him?

Sure enough, the master returns and goes ballistic. Not only is the servant’s name Mud for not reading the master’s mind and earning some interest at least, but he’s cast into outer darkness.

Harsh, what?

I’m even more troubled by what I discover when I search for myself in this story. The truth is that I’m usually plagued by the fear that I’m not doing enough with what I’ve been given. I’m anxious that I won’t figure out the master’s mind about what to do with what I have. (And now I’m referring to the contemporary meaning of talents, not the ancient sum of money kind of talents; and I’m reading master as “Master”). I’m afraid that the Master is going to suss out my inner dumbness and whomp my backside for not recognizing just how much more I could have accomplished if I hadn’t been such a timid nincompoop.

(Where did I get such a skewed image of what the real Master is like? Hmm. Maybe from simplistic readings of multi-layered parables like this, from vast passages of the Old Testament, and from not asking enough questions?)

Wait a minute! Maybe I’m getting more out of this parable than I thought! The master – in his reasonable frame of mind – lauds those first two servants for being “good and faithful” and rewards them with abundance. Goodness. Faith. I think I’m on to something.

It’s the fretful, anxious, uptight servant whose mind is all focused on the possibility of calamity and loss who ends up with … calamity and loss.

I’m not saying that this resolves all my quibbles with the personality of the master portrayed in this story, but when I sit in this story, when I gnaw on its bones, I feel myself called to let go of my fears and experiment with the talents I’ve been given, have some fun, give ‘em a go! It’s not a comparison with the others around me who have five to my two or ten to my four. It’s a mind set of acceptance, gratitude, expansion, joy!

Abundant, what?

This is only an appetizer of what this story, what the scriptures, can reveal when I get in there and munch. I’ve got an appetite for more!

The Healing Power of Creativity

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“In the first weeks after the death of my daughter,” Lisa told me, “I couldn’t even look at my sewing machine or my quilts or any of the creative things I’d always loved.”

“There didn’t seem to be any point,” she continued, “what was the use of my silly projects in this life where you can’t take anything with you.”

“But one day my sweet husband said to me, “Maybe your quilts will help you heal. Maybe you can use your talents to help others heal?” Continue reading