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!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Knowing: a Love story....

I am not getting much done this morning. I have been watching spring unfold. Watching with wonder.

We have had a love story, a true romance, taking place in our yard for the past several years. A few years ago - maybe 4-5 - a beautiful white dove moved into our old trees. She has the most mournful cry, and she kept it up almost relentlessly the whole first spring she was here. She was a loner. All of the other doves shunned her - maybe because she was different, the only all white dove around here.

The following spring, she began her mournful cry again, but before the spring was over, she had found a mate, and her cry no longer sounded so mournful or so relentless. Her mate is a regular ring-necked dove, but he is quite a bit lighter in hue than the rest of the area's common doves. They have been a pair now since they found each other. They generally nest in our flowering crab tree, but a neighborhood cat has been spying there this spring, so they have decided to move house.

The amazing thing is, they have decided to move into our dog yard! One might think, 'out of the frying pan and into the fire,' but I have been watching their relationship unfold with our 10 month Golden puppy, and it has astounded me.

Booker is a real asset to the doves' home-building. He gathers sticks and branches from the yard, and chews them down into twigs just right for the birds nest. The doves gather these, right under Booker's nose. I watched this morning while all three were on the patio, the doves gathering twigs not 5 feet from Booker, who just sat and watched them.

What amazes me is that I would not describe Booker as a 'gentle soul.' He is a rough-and-tumble puppy. Just ask our cat! But he seems to know... and I am not sure what it is that he knows. Does he know from experience that he can not catch them? Does he know that he is their protector from the cat, who will not come into his yard to get them? I'm not sure, but it is clear that he 'knows' something that makes him allow them to be so near and to not harass them at all.

It has reminded me of the things we just 'know.' We know so many things; things that keep us safe. Things that tell us Whose we are. Things that connect us to some people or repel us from others who are a threat to us. I truly believe these things are the things that God has placed in our hearts to help us function in this world. Some would call this knowing 'instinct.' That's as good a word as any, but whatever it is called, in Booker and in myself, I 'just know' that it is a gift from above.