for the Queen
On one beautiful spring morning in 2012, I was driving north on Interstate I-57 through the woodlands of southern Illinois. I had just left Paducah, Kentucky, where my quilt, dedicated to Queen Liliuokalani, was on display at the American Quilterʻs Society Annual Quilt Show. I was headed to Effingham to spend precious time with my Mom before returning to Hawaiʻi. A quilt juried and honored to be shown at the worldʻs premier quilt exhibition? You bet I was high!
It was April 27, the height of Illinois spring. With the warming sun and all the sights and sounds of mainland springtime, I drove with all windows down, the freeway breeze blowing through the car, and the giddiness of my recent achievement.
Suddenly I jumped in my seat. Glancing in the rearview mirror, I looked to find the person, whose voice boomed aloud in the car. “Ric Stark! Will you accept the mission of creating a collection of quilts to honor Queen Liliuokalani?”
I was startled, but even as I twisted and turned my head around, there was no one in the car with me. I thought to myself, Me? Create quilts for the Queen? No way!!
Refocusing on the highway and the lush green forests, I drove on. Perhaps one minute later, again, louder this time, “Ric Stark! Will you accept the mission of creating a collection of quilts to honor Queen Liliuokalani?” A voice as clear as any two-person conversation. But no one there…
This time I mumbled aloud in reply, “What? Me? I’m haole! I canʻt make quilts for the Queen. Go find some Hawaiian to do such a task.”
Unsettled now, I tried to refocus on the road and my driving. But I was on edge. What kind of nonsense! And just imagine! Stupid notion, me, Ric, making quilts for the Queen.
I had refuted the voice from nowhere. Just drive on, Ric!
Not one more mile down the freeway, “Ric Stark! Will you accept the mission of creating a collection of quilts to honor the life and legacy of Queen Liliuokalani?”
Just ahead, I spotted the blue/white freeway sign announcing “Rest Area.” I slowed the car, signaled, and pulled into the freeway rest area. In the middle of the woodland, there were no other cars. No one was around. Thank Goodness for that!
I switched off the ignition and burst from the car. Striding some kind of defiant super-charged gait, I headed for the restrooms.
And then I heard my own voice, screaming into the forest, “OKAY! I will do it!”
I had just finished and celebrated completion of quilt number five, “He Pua Kalaunu o Liliu.” That quilt and my first kapa, made for my Mom, had already been dedicated to Queen Liliuokalani. But now it was official.
Today, each of my kapa is conceived and dedicated to our beloved Queen Liliuokallani. Since that day, I have worked to complete four more quilts, all dedicated to honoring the life and legacy of Hawaiʻi’s beloved Queen. I have patterns drawn for four more quilts and the ideas (he manaʻo) for more than a dozen quilts. In my mission, I say that I am telling The Queen’s Story in Hawaiian quilts.
Queen Liliuokalani passed over one hundred years ago in 1917. But have no doubt! The Queenʻs spirit is very much alive today! Perhaps more so today, than when she was imprisoned and held down by usurpers of her Hawaiian Kingdom.
With her motto, Onipaʻa (steadfast), Queen Liliuokalani inspires, guides, and leads her people with every bit of mana (life force) that she had a century ago. Such is the Spirit of Hawaiʻi. That is our Spirit of Aloha.
Today, Ric Stark makes Hawaiian quilts for the Queen.