CREATING OUTSIDE THE BOX OF CONVENTIONALITY By Cecilia Loving

It’s easy to say God is good but more difficult to be good to God.  Being good to God requires us to be good to the divine ideas that God gives us.  Being good to God requires us to tap into the Universe’s unlimited potential – expressed as our gifts and talents.  When we don’t share our gifts and talents, they dissipate.  A singer who doesn’t sing loses their vocal ability.  An artist who doesn’t paint loses their technique.  A dancer who doesn’t move loses their flexibility.  Pamela D. Jones, Master Quilter extraordinaire, is a perfect example of someone who is good to God because she shares her gifts and talents.  Her phenomenal quilts are exhibited everywhere – from Ethiopia to Detroit to Dallas – and will be a perfect complement to next week’s “Creating Outside the Box of Conventionality” Retreat at the Mariandale Conference Center.

When  her brother, the late jazz poet, hip hop-ologist, author and journalist Kenneth Jones, used to sit behind me at Cass Tech in 1972 and pull my pony tail, I had no idea that his little sister was at home designing doll clothes.  Detroit has an extraordinary creative energy, a magnetism of vision that vibrates even deeper than Motown, even more profound than futuristic car sculpting, even more daring than Xhibit’s sonorous voice or David Alan Grier’s genius – as it keeps expanding into endless forms of artistic expression.  Pam’s artistic expression first took shape in her wearable art fashion line called “Fashions for Sisters with Attitudes Today” which was featured at major department stores and praised by the Michigan Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune and other papers.  But when she began quilting, she was hooked.

A new “quilt-ology” emerges from this registered nurse and Masters of Divinity candidate at New York Theological Seminary.  I call her work “quilt-ology” because it blends healing, regeneration and Spirit into cloth that not only covers us or hangs for our pleasure but also anoints us, prophesies for us and summons us to see as well as listen.  Ms. Jones’ quilts force us to go within and realize that God is here because we witness in them the craftsmanship of the Kingdom.  We know the divine moves through her quilts because they sing scripture and they dance devotion and they even shout hallelujah through color, imagination and intricate, delicate stitching.

Her quilt called “Awakening” was featured on the cover of “The York College Commemorative Quilt” book.  Her “Women of Masi” was featured as the promotional quilt for the Citicorp Quilting and Art Exhibition.  Harvard University School of Divinity, the Black Christian Women’s Conference, and the State Office Building in Harlem are just a few venues that have recognized Pam’s amazing talent through display.  She is Chair of the Maafa  Quilters at St. Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn who shares Pam’s passion for healing deep wombs of oppression and liberating souls from suffering.  She is also the lead instructor for “Black Men Who Quilt”, the only known Black male quilting guild in the country.  My favorite collection is Pam’s “Living Waters: Women of the Bible” series, which consists of 20 quilts depicting some of the women in the bible and their stories.  I love her work because it buries victimhood and celebrates triumph.  She creates outside of the box of tradition through a soul that resonates with victory.

Pam’s quilts tell a new story of victory.  Her witness testifies through texture and shape and form to preach the parables of creation, love and hope in a way that doesn’t just inform us but delivers us.  She says “Art is instinctive to me. It is a talent, which I feel, is best expressed through my quilts.  I enjoy painting but prefer letting the various fabrics I use be my color pallet, expressing the boundless contemplation and evolution of divine ideas.  Spirit always leads me to a mixture of fabrics from hand dyed to African prints, as well as more traditional American fabrics to blend the tapestries of my ancestral inclusions from Native American to Africa.”

She says “beadwork and shells embellish my quilts and work along with embroidery to add dimensions and life to them.  Sometime I also use paint to for added dimension as well.”  Each quilt magically anoints the viewer with a positive and peaceful state, in part, because Pam often creates them as she recites scripture.  These quilts wear the blessing and bring it into new shape and form and texture.  “When starting a new piece, I never really know what it will look like in the end,” she says.  “I see each one emerging like a mystery novel.  I must keep reading – keep adding fabric – in order to reach the end of the plot. Most times the true meaning of the piece is not revealed to me until it’s finished.  Quilt design is my way of allowing my imagination to soar.”

In the book God is a Brown Girl Too, God reminds us to let our imaginations soar – to embrace each moment with poems, hugs and twitters, to radiate new joy, solve new equations and fulfill new prophecies.  When we are daring enough to go with the flow of wherever creativity takes us, we find ourselves giving shape to form and substance well beyond convention or norm – to the miraculous and the genius and the divine.  Being made in “God’s image and likeness” means that we, too, are co-creators with light, energy and power.  We carry the notes of the musician giving birth to new music, the harmony of the rapper reaping hip hop beats, the whisper of the writer typing word magic, the ministry of the sculptor shaping faith from blocks, the prophecy of the painter blending answered prayers, the stitch of a quilter moving beyond ordinary squares to extraordinary surprises.  When we take time to listen to Spirit and allow it to direct our path, we realize that the things we devote most of our time to are not the most important.  We have to bold enough to move beyond the margins, to bend them into something beautiful, to create a master-piece by coloring outside the lines. Creating outside the box of conventionality is what really sustains us because we are here — not just to be good for ourselves but to be good for God.  Being good for God only happens when we allow God to use us – in the basic, simple, honest, most extraordinary ways.

If we listen, we can hear God saying move out of your way:  “I will open new doors.  I will send new ideas.  I will bless you with the wisdom that you need.  I will lift you to dance into and leap out of my realm of infinite possibilities.”

Artists like Pamela Jones remind us that using the gifts that only God can give us is a starting place, a foundation for a triumph that will flourish so much, it will become the ground upon which we stand – but only when we give way to it.

© 2011 Reverend Cecilia Loving

About SPIRITMUV:  Spiritmuv® is a trans-denominational church, which means that it transcends the confines of religion and teaches unconditional love for one another regardless of race, creed, culture, or religion.   At the heart of its teachings is what Jesus taught — that we love one another, as well as the community that Mahatma Gandhi inspired when he said, “I am a Christian and a Muslim and a Hindu and a Jew.”  Reverend Cecilia Loving is the founder and creator of Spiritmuv, formed in 2007.  Services are held for an hour every Sunday, from 2:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. at the Unity Center of NYC, at 213 West 58th Street.

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