by Elly Brosius, M.S.
Life has interlaced ribbons of my journey with ribbons of Eileen Melia’s. She made me, prayed me, a quilt with a theme of spiraling ribbons a few years ago. Now the ribbons of my spiraling DNA are winding me up to share about this gift and the gifts of the giver. I’m in a twisted ribbon story, needing to shout about it so more might learn of this wonderful woman, how she answers the call to service by being a unique quilter piecing together meanings, meditations, and motherly outreach.
Eileen is a lively storyteller, full of spirit, punctuating with insight and exclamation. She makes me laugh in crying situations, she motivates many into hard and helpful changes, and she makes masterpieces she describes as sewn prayer to affirm the lives and works of social justice champions, educators, people with special health challenges, people helping people, and peace activists.
The distinguished list of her affirmation quilt recipients include individuals assisting in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, tragedy; Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and national “Teacher of the Year” recipients; authors, religious leaders, and national and international organizations; mothers and youth leaders; Pope Francis, Dr. Oz, and Mattie Stepanik; and two friends made via my CFS support and gratitude groups ministry and me.
In the next several blogs, I piece together photos and stories of some of Eileen’s affirmation quilts with some stories of how a few friends with similar syndromes were quilted into each other’s journey.
It was awhile before I understood that Eileen was a quilter, yes, and a Quilter at some archetypal level that went beyond the material. Selecting fabric, cutting, piecing and the sewing are, of course, part of a quilter’s service. Typing up and sharing her deepest divine thoughts about the process, the finished product and about the symbolism of selections and the people involved, layers in conscious love and spiritual care. The warmth of the comforter, the quilt, is enhanced by the warmth of the words. The warmth of the comforter, Eileen, is felt via many threads.
Eileen came into my life as I was forming Elly’s Gratitude Group (EGG). She jumped in with both feet. We became close. We discovered similar ribbons of faithful service and for sharing appreciation through writing, for showing how to find the sacred in the ordinary stuff of life, for healing and empowering hearts.
Empowering Heart Rhythm Quilts
One of Eileen Melia’s Empowering Heart Rhythm quilts was given to a woman who was running a heart condition charity around the time Eileen and I met, about the time I was starting a group to help hearts. No accident there. I have since heard another one went to an opera singer.
The title inspires me in its entirety and parsed. An “empowering heart’s” rhythm sounds already strong and playing a song I want to dance to. Empowering a “heart rhythm” moves me to help someone who is not yet finding their own beat. When I contemplate the words empowering, heart, and rhythm, my poor circulation becomes richer and my postural tachycardia becomes less tacky. Titles add value; Eileen’s quilt titles for quilts for the ailing add healing value.
When I envision Eileen, a woman with hurts in her heart, crafting and gifting Empower Heart Rhythm to a woman with a heart condition who helps others with heart conditions, my anxious heart calms and cheers. The title is the beginning.
The Empowering Heart Rhythm quilt has vibrant red hearts appliquéd on white combined with black and white themed fabric with piano keys and clefs. Behold two photos of the quilt and two excerpts from the woven words Eileen included with it.
“… the appliqué stitch reminds one of the piercings or challenges that sometimes may cause the heart to bleed, but in retrospect can be seen as graces that encourage wisdom, growth, and knowledge that leads to openness of the heart”
and note two:
“scales are so like the lessons in life – they must be practiced over and over until they become part of the fabric of one’s life.”
“The Meditation” is what Eileen calls the accompaniment to the quilt, that which describes how the quilt’s unique design relates to the individual or group receiving the quilt. The words balance the patterns. While the right brain is soaking in the color and the shapes and the symbolism, the very verbal left brain has something to love and be loved from. These written expressions expand the gift exponentially. They sometimes overwhelm, humble, blow away, and/or delight the recipient for years.
©Elly Brosius, 2016. All rights reserved. Excerpting is allowed with credit and direction to original content. For full reprint permission, firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos of Empowering Heart Quilt supplied by Eileen Melia. Photo of label saying “Made Especially for You by Eileen Melia” by Elly Brosius.