Our friend Hri just had a baby. In her honor, a bunch of us contributed a 10×10 block for her quilt. I invited a friend over, pulled out piles of scraps and we got to work. We stayed up ridiculously late. It turned out to be quite a collaboration.
I really *get* the whole quilting bee thing. I used to think it was kinda corny, but now I see it as a tangible expression of community.
Maybe it calls to something ancestral in me. Some of my people are Pennsylvania Dutch. When I visited Lancaster County as a girl, some old Amish granny I didn’t really know happened to invite me to the basement below her farmhouse. It was loaded with half a dozen or more wooden quilting frames for the women’s weekly gathering. Beauty on so many fronts.
It must be more than ancestry for me. After all, I was the recipient of a community quilt once, so I know firsthand: community presence is tangible in the final product.
Stitchers for a Cause is a group that sews quilts for children who have been placed foster care and knit wheelchair bags. They’ve donated almost 2,000 items. I’ve heard stories about kids who have received Stitchers quilts. In some cases, those quilts are the first and only possessions these children call their own. It is the one physical item that goes with them from home to home, that they don’t grow out of. What an inspiring team of men and women. I got to volunteer for them for a few months last year.
Then, earlier this year when we lost our baby, the Stitchers group stopped everything and collaborated to make a quilt for our family. I was stunned: thinking of all of those people working together across the country out of love for (little old) me whom they hardly knew? It has meant so much to us. In the first months after our loss, there were times my husband and I would just lie there on the couch under that quilt even when it was warm out.
That’s the kind of nourishment a community quilt can give. It is as if the whole Stitchers gang is giving me a hug whenever I wrap that quilt around myself.
There is power in a group. When individuals turn their energy on a project together, it is a beautiful thing.
If you haven’t yet, try it. Invite friends. Plop scraps in the middle of the table. Open a bottle of wine. See what happens. You don’t need a sewing machine. You don’t need to know how. Just try. If you find your community and tap into it…if you give something back, you’ll receive more in return than you can possibly imagine.