Covers vs Blankets
Woke up to a skiff of snow this morning. A bit early for this time of the year, pretty and crisp and all I wanted to do was stay under the covers. Yet I didn’t reach for extra blankets. I just wanted to stay warm under the covers I already had. The covers I have are abundant and extensive.
Covers vs. blankets? Could it not be quilts vs. afghans? You may be thinking, potato – potahto, tomato – tomahto. But bear with me. Mama bear with me. Or rather, great grandmother bear with me!
The word blanket means unmitigated, absolute, unlimited. And in the right context, blanket could be just fine (though blanket statements aren’t usually a good thing). Synonyms for cover include protection, shield, refuge. This is what my spirit is snuggling in today. The covers, discoveries and uncoverings that I have been wrapped in the past few days.
Discovering and Uncovering
For the past few months, I’ve been doing custom artistic upholstery on mid century chairs. Commissioned to uncover, discover and recover. Each chair has its own story, there are no two chairs upholstered the same. The uniqueness of each person must be reflected in these chairs. When I shop for fabric, it is to discover the palette that best suits not just the person but also the meaningfulness of the chair.
The process of taking apart a chair can be difficult. The depth of the metaphors I find as I take the chair to its bones often produce tears. I write throughout this work and with each chair, there is a letter that goes with it. I don’t know the history of the chairs but I know the process and the discoveries I make when I reupholster. Once a chair is finished, I’m the only person who really knows what happened during the process is until I write about it. There’s a story to be told and to behold.
I’ve had my great grandmother’s chair for as long as I can remember. My mom had recovered it for me in a hunter green. I’m not much a green person anymore. I like it in trees, but I really love blue. And purple, obviously.
Looking at the chair, I realized it was time to recover it once more. Especially when I looked at the couch that I had decided also needed a transformation. The chair looked a little less daunting.
My great grandmother was from Scotland. I can actually say that I’ve been there. Not to from where she hailed from, but my feet have been on the land. I have a deep love for Scotland and cannot wait until I have the privilege of going back.
I didn’t know my great grandmother, but I know a few things about her. She fed my Dad lard sandwiches. She lived humbly and simply. She didn’t have things easy. She prayed. A lot. I have her English/Gaelic Bible that is worn, the covers barely hanging on.
So when I began taking the formerly resplendent green from the back of the chair, I was stunned to see what was beneath. Luxurious ‘arthy’ (my best Scottish typing of the word earthy) rust velvety fabric. It matches my living room perfectly. I had no clue it was there – or forgot, perhaps when I first saw it, I despised the rust colour, not seeing it for its beauty. Probably wishing for something fancy or flashy or at least more glamorous. In fact, this fabric is probably the original. At once, I realized how there are always stories to rediscover. Forgotten heritages to honour. I knew restoration needed to happen in more than one way.
A Place to Remember
The other day I purchased an end table that holds vinyl records. The owner, a fellow musician, had lived in Texas and loved that land so much that she emblazoned it with the flag. I planned to repaint, because I could and because I’m an artist. On the way home, I felt strongly that I needed to leave it as it was. To honour the former owner’s story. When I placed it in my living room, the tones matched perfectly and my record player perched happily on the top. So I have a bit of Texas in my living room. I think many Albertans have a bit of Texas in their hearts.
As I contemplated what I would do with the chair, I imagined my great grandmother reading her Bible and praying in that chair. Then I knew, this chair needed a nostalgic touch. This chair was to become once more a place to remember….blessings, promises, precious people and words.
I had already purchased printed turquoise vinyl for the chair. Oh, well. It just wouldn’t do now. So I trotted off to the fabric store and started my adventure to discover the cover for this chair of coverings. My great grandmother lived simply and humbly – in fact, I think even in a sod house (but don’t quote me, just go with me here). So I knew the earth was covered. Prayer may occur on earth in the natural, but it is all about the heavenlies. Agreeing and aligning oneself with God’s thoughts and promises. Taking every tear and every laugh to Abba, listening well in order to walk well.
I found some vibrantly printed fabric but it did not look very Scottish. The plaids all had red (and that wouldn’t do). I found myself ‘oh well’ing around the store, circling the upholstery section several times. As with so many other chairs, I started to be concerned and worry. Would I find something that would honour the beauty of the original and speak of the new to come?
Suddenly, I knew the colour would have to be blue, Isle of Skye blue. There it was in the aisle right in front of me. May I say the Aisle of the Isle of Sky blue? It was even burlap-ish. Burlap was used for soldiers, a cheap durable fabric, originating in Scotland. Still made there. And other places of course.
Well, well, well! Deep thoughts started to spark as I reveled in how the fleck in the fabric pulled an orange tone when the original sat up against it. The lyrics ‘The whole ‘arth’ is full of Your Glory, Lord’ showed up in that simple moment. I could hardly wait to bring it home.
All those years of praying and spending time in the Word were not wasted. How could they be? I don’t know what she prayed or how she prayed but I know she prayed. For all I know, my great grandmother may well have been upholding her whole lineage to the Lord in prayer. That’s covering. I have been doing that for years. Lifting up those I love, thanking God for His grace and mercy. Taking everything to the only One who truly knows.
There are five flowered tacks on each side of the back. That’s the number of grace – I am surrounded by grace all around me. Grace is getting something you don’t deserve. I have received a lot of grace. I plan on receiving as much as I possibly can, however much the Lord will give me.
Blankets are heavy, cumbersome, and though the term suggests unlimited, I actually feel like the word blanket is limiting. So, I’ve decided that from now on I don’t have blankets, I have covers. Covers of grace, covers of mercy, blessing, favour, protection and love.
And now, I have a designed and designated chair of covering. May whoever sits in this chair be blessed with by being seated in the heavenlies, at rest on the ‘arth’ and surrounded by grace. In fact, I think it’s ‘highland’ time I sit in my chair of covering.