Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fabric Rent Assunder

If we are lucky, we are helped by those around us in the pursuit of weaving a rich, colorful nurturing cloth which we can wrap around for comfort, peace, warmth, and rest. If we are wise, we hug it tight in the coldest weather, and we tend it when storm clouds are distant rumblings. We repair it frayed edges with careful, gentle stitches, adding patches, a new border, sewing small tears without too much worry about the small ridges or scars our handicraft leave behind.

When I started out, mine was a simple blanket, small, light, brightly colored. As I grew, so did my blanket, looking less singular and more like a quilt. Our mother took care of it for me, darning holes with unconditional love, sewing her spirit and love into our lives with each stitch. As I grew older, the tapestry became richer, more complex. Samples from other's blankets were added to mine, bound forever, irrevocably. Some were great fields of blue and gold, others tartan or fleece, denim and nylon. Others, small and nearly insignificant, dark with moody blacks and grays. They served as borders between greater colors, never more than humble accents. My quilt became less of just me, even as it became more indelibly mine. It became ours as it became mine, woven with shared pieces of friends and family. And it was strongly made.

Along the way, our mother taught me to thread a needle, to handle a box stitch. Nothing fancy for me, but enough to make my own repairs or to add a little patch of color that caught my eye. The gift of the blanket from my mother, and later her teachings and guidance, gave my more than just myself, infinitely more than I could have created with my own hands. With her love, I became part of my own tapestry, adding, mending, designing. Her gift remains beyond calculation.

The seamstress is gone now, her wise hands stilled, her own majestic tapestry folded and stored safely in the cedar chest. Her lessons, those she could share, have been taught and I can simply look to my own quilt if I need to remember. I run my hands over the cloth, feeling its varied textures. My eyes wander over its landscape, startled by the seemingly randomness of the squares of my quilt. I alone now care for my tapestry, doing my best to keep the fabric clean, adding new scraps here and there, never pulling out sheers to trim away a worn, tired corner. Although I have learned to snip a bit of mine away, giving it happily to others who sew their own now. And in return, they unknowingly give to me small new squares to add to my ever-changing quilt.

And look closely! You still can see my clumsy, incomplete stitching along the great rent she left upon departing. I can't quite pull the edges of the rip all the way closed, and that incompleteness seems to be right, or at least alright.

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