Lessons From “The QuiltMaker’s Gift”
We have in our collection at home a storybook called The QuiltMaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken. (Orchard Books; New York, NY; © 2000).
The story begins by introducing the QuiltMaker, a mysterious old woman who lives in a cabin in the mountains. She is a quilter of consummate talent and spends all of her days making quilts and then at night she goes down into the villages and gives her quilts to the poor and to the needy. The act of giving brings her much joy.
Another character is introduced after the QuiltMaker – a greedy King. The King was one who was never happy, never smiled and never thought of anyone but himself. He liked nothing better than to receive presents – so he commanded each person in the Kingdom to give him a gift twice a year. In this way, he collected many wonderful and beautiful things – but they never could satisfy him. One day he found out about the QuiltMaker and realized that she had never given him a gift. Therefore, he went to her and demanded she give him a quilt. She refused – saying that she only gave them to those who were in need and that if the King would give away all of the presents he had received, when they were all gone, she would make him a quilt. She told him that every time he would give away a gift that she would add a new piece to his quilt.
After several more attempts to force her to give him a quilt, the King finally relented and promised to give away his many presents. He went home began to give away his many presents. With each gift he gave he began to feel happy – the more he gave, the happier he became. He decided to give away everything that he owned not just to those in his Kingdom but he went into the entire world giving away all his precious gifts. Each time he gave one away a messenger would tell the QuiltMaker and she would add a new piece to his quilt.
After many years of gift giving, the King had become a wondrous and joyful man to be around. He loved nothing more than to give all his precious time and gifts to those in need. And when the time came that he gave away his last present, the QuiltMaker finished his quilt which was a masterpiece – so beautiful that birds would sing when they saw it and butterflies circled around it. When she was finished with the quilt, the QuiltMaker went in search of the King. When she found him, his clothes were torn and soiled and he had given away all that he had. Then because he had made himself poor and now was in need – she gave him the quilt that she had made. The King replied that he was not poor, that in fact, he was the riches man he knew because of all the joy he had given and received in the giving away of his gifts.
Several wonderful parallels can be drawn from this delightful tale about the joy of giving:
The QuiltMaker’s labor of love reflects the blessings that come from above. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)
The initial attitude of the King reminds us of the Rich Fool. “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ‘ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)
The King’s unhappiness despite his over-abundance of material possessions, reflects the life of King Solomon and his discovery that there is “no profit under the sun.”(Ecclesiastes 2:11). Like the King in “The QuiltMaker’s Gift” Solomon had everything he wanted or desired, but in the end he found no happiness in things material. Solomon found happiness in serving God (Ecclesiastes 12:13). The QuiltMaker’s King found happiness in giving.
Like the Rich Young Ruler of Matthew 19:16-22, this ruler was ruled by his possessions. Both asked for something they greatly desired. The Rich Young Ruler asked for eternal life and the QuiltMaker’s King asked for a beautiful quilt. Both were told to give away their possessions. The Rich Young Ruler went away sorrowful, but the QuiltMaker’s King went away and did as he was told. The Rich Young Ruler’s soul remained bound to his possessions and he felt extreme sorrow at the thought of giving away his precious things, but the QuiltMaker’s King found true joy and happiness through his giving and in the end he received the treasure he desired most.
In reading the story we see demonstrated once again that materialism cannot satisfy the soul. We see illustrated the Truth that Jesus spoke when He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35).
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)