Arzu was a highly paid professional in the district attorney's office when she heard that an old friend and fellow SGI member had contracted AIDS. His name was Steven. She wanted to make a quilt for him.
She had never made a quilt or used a sewing machine in her life. But she had guts and made a determination to the Gohonzon to make her friend a quilt before he died.
She told friends of her plans. They gave her fabric, took her to quilting shops, and loaned her books about quilting. Her mother, a quilter, taught her to communicate with cloth. Arzu would lay fabric pieces on the floor and stare at them until they told her where they should be placed. Then she would sew them together in the arrangement the cloth proscribed.
She rushed home after work, to do Gongyo, chant Daimoku and work on the quilt. She sometimes only got one or two hours of sleep a night. She was thrilled to be alive.
Her first quilt was not appropriate for Steven. She had done 15 quilts before she realized that each quilt was telling her something important about her life.
After 20 quilts, Steven asked, "How is the quilt coming along?" She replied "I am still working on it. You can't die yet."
Arzu's quilts were in an exhibit called "Arzu in Pieces." After the show, the promoter stole her quilts. Arzu chanted Daimoku until she had no voice left and continued to chant to understand why someone had taken away everything she loved. After eight hours of chanting, the answer came quietly and unmistakably clear: she had devalued her work and thereby devalued her own life.
"My work is about the evolution of women, who are the givers of life and love. In our many roles as friends and lovers, mothers and sisters, we laugh, cry, contemplate, support, suffer, struggle and through all this we continue to develop and grow. All of my pictorial quilts are freeze frames that capture the moment when this evolutionary process actually occurs."After this revelation she received a phone call. Her quilts had been recovered.
Steven overcame AIDS. He is now producing his own T cells and is living more than dying. When Arzu showed him her work, they both cried like babies.
"I love President Ikeda. I love his life and everything that he is doing for the world. Were it not for him, I would not know of this Buddhism and I would not be who I am and I would not be as happy, as I am."