On Friday, my friend Heather showed me a quilt. It was beautiful – all these muted shades of greens and browns. Her husband’s mom Linda made it . . . but there was something about Hez’s face that told me I was supposed to be seeing more in this lovely blanket. I have this fuzzy recollection of the weeks after Mom’s death, giving Hez fabric for Linda to use. Those days are so blurred by grief, though, that I don’t have a lot of clarity about what happened then.

“Your mom made the squares,” Heather said. “All Linda did was add the edging.” I nearly cried.

My mom made this quilt. Even after she was gone, Linda – in her gracious spirit – finished it for her. An acquaintance carrying on the work of a woman her daughter-in-law loved. A project of community and love for Mom, for Hez, for me.

This is the spirit of community at its best, this desire to carry one another along when we can’t carry ourselves. I see this all the time with my friends who support my writing. Someone posts a link to another writer’s blog. A group of folks gather around our dear friend through FB “likes” and “woo hoo”s because she wrote 40,000 words today. Another group agrees to read my essay draft and give me feedback on what I could do to improve it. None of these people has endless hours to spend helping one another; we are all busy with our own work and lives. We do it because, well, this is what community does. We help one another.

My friend Shawn blogged about this very thing last week, and I was reminded of how very much I rely on my community of writers to keep me going – to urge me to the page when I’m making excuses for myself, to point me to what I should read, and to help me find hope when the project seems so overwhelming.

Without a doubt, I wouldn’t be doing this writing thing without them. Just as surely as Mom’s squares would sit unquilted in a box if Linda hadn’t sewn them into beauty, I would be silent, unworded, and sad. Thank God for the way we are all stitched together.

Do you have a writing community? If so, how do they help you? If not, how could you start to build one?