Ancient Woven Threads

I look at life like a woven tapestry, but one that is maybe a little frayed, a little unraveled.  I find a thread and I pick at it.  It’s a colorful thread and it captures my attention.  My fingers, unbidden, find it whenever my mind is distracted, pulling a little at it.  I find where it weaves its way between others and I give my full attention to unraveling it, carefully tracing it back to where it came from.

Yet, what I often don’t realize is that as I pick at this one thread, it changes how others relate to each other.  The entire pattern shifts, obscuring the very source I’m seeking to find by tracing back this thread.  I find myself distracted by another brightly colored thread and I try to put it down, to turn back to something more productive, but my fingertips are enticed by the soft rub of the threads against them.  Gently teasing out the tiny threads brings me comfort in a world that often seems chaotic or overly complicated.  These threads are something I can hold close and even as I may give a brief thought to how they’re always changing, there’s always a part of me that denies it, that wants to believe the pattern has always been the same.

I didn’t inherit this tapestry.  I didn’t even know it existed until so late.  I often wonder if earlier parts of my life might have been different if I’d had these threads with me to pick at.  Would I have been gentler on myself if I’d had that comfort?  Or, would I have ignored it as so many others who did inherit it did?  Why did what I did inherit seem so shabby compared to this?  It was like cotton, thin, new, more machined and mass-produced.  This feels homemade and old.  It smells like old libraries with books that have sat on shelves forgotten by time.  The colors are still rich even despite its age, so I can tell it was made of richer stuff, something more substantial that has survived time.

If I’d found it when I was younger, would it have the same appeal?  Or, would I have tossed it aside, considering it worn out and outdated?  Would I have bothered looking closer, my fingertips grazing that first thread, which then led to another and to another?  Why didn’t any threads from my own childhood beg to be teased apart like these?  I remember a few furtive attempts, but they ended either with the fabric completely falling to pieces or with knots.  This, though, this can withstand my prying fingers.  It’s as if it was made to be picked at, as if it invites it.  I pick and pick, but there are only more layers beneath, waiting, inviting.  They obscure the weaver and yet draw me nearer to their creator, a love letter from Him to me written in the code of frayed, richly dyed threads.

It requires both my concentration and intellect as well as my heart and imagination to untangle them.  One or the other isn’t enough.  If I apply only my mind, the threads become dry and rough, brittle almost.  I can untangle them, but it becomes heavy effort and my fingertips crack.  If I apply only my heart and imagination, the threads become a tangled mess, the fabric felting together, impossible to decipher.  Together, though, it goes smoothly and it is a pleasure to pick away.

And so, as the world spins on into a future, my fingertips keep being drawn back to the past, to ancient threads woven together for someone else that I can’t seem to hand back.

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