The Week 7 guide for the Online Retreat in Everyday Life is here.

This week has been the week of the cobwebs as I’ve examined my recurring sins. The prompts in this week’s guide initially made me think of the patchwork quilt that keeps me warm. It was made by my great-grandmother, and it’s a lively rainbow of different patterns and materials. I kept shying away from the analogy of my own sin patterns and this quilt, though. The quilt, after all, is something good – why would I compare it with sin?

It’s never comfortable to find cobwebs, because sometimes they have a live spider in them (which technically means they’re not cobwebs!). Living in an old house as I do, though, I am quite a pro at uncovering life forms which inspire screaming. I don’t like it, and I may never be used to it, but shedding some light in the corners of my soul can’t be worse than cleaning a dusty old attic, could it?

My old quilt has a tear in it. I have no sewing skill (yet – I intend to gain some “someday”), and something about that tear has meaning for me. This week, I think, is the meaning of that tear.

My life, for the most part, is filled with good things, with blessings and abundance. It’s a patchwork of joy and tears, held together by grace. Each challenge I face, each triumph I share…they all go into the quilt of my life.

Some of the pieces of Great-Grandma’s quilt are very beautiful – they’re shiny and of a quality of material you just don’t find anymore. Other pieces, though, have seen better days. They’re battered and I wonder how they’ll hold up to the next trip through the washing machine. When you look at each piece of the quilt up close, you get a different idea than when you step back.

Stepping back allows you to see the art of hard work. Stepping back allows you to appreciate the beauty, even though there are some ugly pieces here and there. But, in stepping back, we can also see the tears that we might have otherwise overlooked.

Last week, we stepped back and looked at sin in the world. This week, we’re getting a little closer by looking at our lives. We’re looking at the ugly pieces of the quilt, but we’re not getting too close. We’re looking for patterns…and tears.

Some sin is a pattern that’s woven in our quilt. Maybe, for me, it’s a way of treating others or a way of reacting to situations. Maybe I can read the Gospel stories this week and see Jesus in a different light…hear his voice with a new appreciation for where he’s calling me to go.

Other sins are tears, ripping me apart from the love Jesus has for me. They are sins that I have been carrying around with me, perhaps thinking that Jesus couldn’t possibly love that part of me too.

What will it take for the quilt of my life to be beautiful to me? How hard will Jesus have to hold me for me to know, without a doubt, that he can and will forgive even that sin? And, conversely, that he will not laugh about those small sins that have been forming patterns?

For me, this week is about finding the grace to find the patterns, even as it seems my life conspires to make me so busy that I can’t sit still. For me, snuggling under my quilt is a reminder not to be too hard on myself for doing what I can this week (as opposed to giving up), even as it’s a tangible reminder that there is more to do.

(Read more about Great-Grandma’s quilt here, if you’re so inclined. That picture is it, and oh! the smell it had when it came off the line was quite divine!)