You have been wearing the same clothes for most of your life, but now they lie torn and tattered across the floor, no longer recognisable as clothes at all. These were the clothes of a mother and a teacher, clothes to keep warm in a draughty cottage, clothes of a certain kind of friend, a certain kind of daughter, lover, sister.
Now you wear only sweat pants and t-shirt, the global clothes of self-isolation, and in your quiet comfort you see clearly what brought you and the world to this precise moment, to this place at this time, although you can’t yet think what this means for tomorrow.
Instead you spend your solitary days thinking of the tattered clothes of others and ways to stitch yourself more firmly to their frayed edges. Anne Lamott suggests ‘…you can start to sew around the quilted squares with the same colour embroidery thread’, and so you do just that, using a dark plum-coloured red to spool from your phone to their phone, a thread of enquiry and dissection, of laughter and bewilderment, of compassion and reassurance. You feel you have unlimited supplies of plum-coloured thread, so you sew every afternoon and most evenings, the stitching together of the disparate squares of your life, a process Lamott describes as ‘grace as an unexpected bond, grace as surprise.’
And now, you look out your window at the houses that surround you, imagining the houses beyond and the houses beyond that, and you see a multitude of threads in a multitude of colours, criss-crossing and shimmering in the freshly washed air of spring, each colour a unifying stitch that sews us into our longed-for future.
(Extracts from Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair, by Anne Lamott)