Monday, April 26, 2010

My life is but a tapestry...

On Sunday evening, the a capella group I sing with went to a neighboring church to sing. The church family there was grieving the loss of one of their missionary members. In tribute, one of the members recited this poem, which is of unknown origin:

My Life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.

Not til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
Who leave the choice with Him.

This poem became popular when Corrie Ten Boom included it in her book a number of years ago, but I have always wondered why it became so popular with the general public. If I were not a weaver, I do not think I would understand it in the same way I understand it because I am a weaver.

When I weave a tapestry, especially a large one, as the span of my life would hopefully be, I can only see a very small portion of it at a time. I cannot concern myself with what has been woven before, because it is wound around a beam and will not be seen again until the tapestry is completed and off the loom. In the photo above, the large tapestry is almost completed. It is 56" long, yet only about 10" of tapestry can be seen by me as I weave any given area. What will be woven in the future has not been determined yet. Even though I may have the design completed and in front of me, as God the weaver of our lives surely does, each thread I weave in, each color and texture, is a choice I make while I am weaving each specific shape and area. I may choose, and change my mind, and choose again several times before I weave the area in what will be it's final arrangement. Though God may have a design in mind for our lives, he is allowing us to choose the colors and textures that go into it.

This is the 'underside' of one of my tapestries, fresh off the loom. Whomever wrote this poem knew what the underside of a tapestry looked like! Just like our lives often look to us; like pure chaos. Yet, when turned over there is a beautiful tapestry on the other side, with a design that looks planned and orderly. It is that beautiful side of our lives, according to the poet, that God sees.

One of my favorite parts of this poem is the bit about how necessary the 'dark threads' are. In any art or design course, one of the first things, and the most often repeated thing, that you learn is how important it is to have all values present in your design. Bright colors and areas of light cannot 'sing' without nearby areas of dark. Our lives do need the dark times, much as we dread and dislike them, for us to know true joy in the light times.

I have not thought of this poem in a long time. It was good to have it drawn to my attention again. When I heard it on Sunday evening, I wanted to bring everyone home to my studio with me, so I could show them exactly what the poet meant!


Karen said...

I feel a need to come see you this summer and see all your beauty.

K Spoering said...

Do come, Karen! Let me know when, as our summer is starting to look like the back of the tapestry already!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I wanted to share this with my Greek husband that had never heard it!!!! It makes so much sense, we were talking about Heaven and would we remember everything. This poem makes me think we will but we will see how it all fits together and from God's perspective!!!!

'Towhee' said...

This poem has been set to music, but I haven't heard it since I was a Camp Counselor in the 1970's! Does anyone know the musical version or where I might get the tune from?

Any leads would be appreciated!

K Spoering said...

I've never heard it as a song, but maybe you could find it on iTunes. Let me know if you find it!

April Jo said...

I found the song on this music player... it is called The Weaver.

Spirit Sparkplugs said...

Hi there Karen,

I wanted to let you know that I stumbled across your blog, compliments of Google (your blog was 2nd in line when typing in the first line of the beautiful poem.)

Thank you for writing the beautiful piece you did on the tapestry and how you saw it as you worked on your own tapestry. You wrote a beautiful entry. I wanted to let you know that I linked this blog entry into my latest caringbridge (blog) update which can be found at ... I love this poem and its one of my favourite, especially to lean on in times of turbulence or struggle. Thank you for sharing your take on it...

May you be blessed...

Kindest Regards, Kylee xox

K Spoering said...

Kylee, I'm glad you found me here. And I hope your life gets easier. I know what it is like to live with constant pain, as I have some residual head pain from Shingles that gives me daily grief. It is not always easy to be strong, when our bodies feel so weak. I am glad you have The Helper in your life, too. Take care, and continue to lean!

Kathy S

Kathleen said...

Hi and thanks for your beautiful analogy. I am fascinated that you said Corrie Ten Boom was not the author of that poem. I am trying to track down the copyright holder to see if I can print it in my upcoming book as a preface. Every site I find attributes it to her. If it is a unanimous poem, I wouldn't need permission. Any info you can share would greatly help. Thanks! K. Mitchell

Sandy said...

At this link,d.cGU
I found this version attributed to an author: My life is but a weaving between my Lord and me, I cannot choose the colors He worketh steadily. Ofttimes He weaveth sorrow, and I, in foolish pride, Forget He sees the upper and I the under side. Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly Shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver's skillful hand As the threads of gold and silver in the patterns He has planned. He knows, He loves, He cares! Nothing this truth can dim. He gives His very best to those who leave the choice with Him.
--Hughes Fawcett