One of the wonderful things about traveling to schools to tell stories is that I get to meet librarians. If you are insatiably curious, librarians are wonderful people to know. They can find out things that most of us have no clue even exist. The saddest thing about my job is that I see each librarian only once a year, or worse every few years. Most of them are people I’d like to know.
I have one such friend to whom I have given the designation of “My Personal Research Librarian.” Anna Mae, who lives in a small southeast Texas town, hearkens to a time when the world moved more slowly. If you look up the word “genteel” in the dictionary, you will find that it says “See Anna Mae.” She is one of only two people I know who take time to write letters (the other is my delightful mother-in-law). She claims to know little about computers and doesn’t use e-mail.
I get regular clippings from her with little notes attached. When she finds a newspaper or magazine article she thinks might interest me, she sends it along. It’s always a wonderful surprise to find an envelope in the mailbox that isn’t a bill! And, she sends some delightful things I wouldn’t otherwise discover on my own.
In one of the recent batches was an article about The Thread Project. I wish I had known about it when I could still contribute. It’s one of the most heartwarming things I’ve encountered recently.
After September 11, 2001, Terry Helwig, a counselor in South Carolina, worried about our world. She decided we were all “hanging by a thread.” She pondered about how to heal the wounds of hatred … and inspiration struck. She began asking friends to donate a single thread that held some meaning to them for a weaving to symbolize hope.
Terry dreamed of “weaving our differences into a unified whole.”
Her project grew into a grassroots movement with its own website and resulted in seven huge weavings of seven panels each with over 50,000 threads from all over the world. Every thread has a story. Helwig will be putting those stories into a book this year. The website documents how the project was done with photographs and a collection of some of the “Story Threads.” It also tells where the panels will be exhibited over the coming year. Below is Helwig with a few of the panels.
Groups at churches and schools gathered to bring their threads for the project. People sent their threads with a story attached, and the threads were of many kinds: A tassel from a graduation, lace from a wedding dress, thread from a blanket of a child who died, a length of fishing line, a guitar string.
One young man, named Mario, said, “I didn’t come prepared with a thread so I just took my shirt off and ripped this strip from it. That’s so you know I would take the shirt off my back to contribute to the peace and healing of our community.”
The panels were woven across the world. Some were woven here in the United States in small towns in Tennessee, Kansas, Idaho, and Pennsylvania. One was woven in Wimberly, Texas. Other panels were woven in Afghanistan, El Salvador, Ghana, Australia, British Columbia, India, Israel, and the UK.
Helwig explains the significance of the “7” by saying that there are 7 continents, 7 colors in the color spectrum, 7 days in the week, and 7 symbolizes perfect order, completeness, totality, safety and synthesis. From her spark of inspiration, her dream, Terry Helwig brought people together to “symbolically mend our world.” What an amazing feat. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we could all embrace the idea that all our lives are woven together? As Helwig said, “one voice matters; one idea counts; a single thread can help re-weave the web.”
Terry Helwig is good example of a person who chased a dream to catch one. Thanks, Anna Mae, for passing it along.