Thursday, 1 March 2012

Tangled Tapestries

Sun shaft, single with intent explodes from rectangle high, flooding adobe walls with flaxen light.

Master weaver, sitting second tier high on macro sized loom visually devours the incremental emergence of pattern and design enhanced from reflected light below. 

Thoughts...plans...story...eons past, engage the clutch of his desire toward bringing friction to fruition. 

Pursuing...whispered desire...not in bringing this tapestry to the necessary exactness of dutiful, predetermined, hoop jumping, law performed perfection, but the commingling of creatives wild passion...a heart who, moving toward finally discovering its shimmering longings...begins intertwining past and present loss and longing toward hope and’s never too late!

Quietly superintending...clutch engaged...whispered direction extended...watching...waiting...while understudy ineptly weaves each minute thread, locking them as the shuttle is thrown back and forth...left to right...intersecting colour...pattern...texture...a story...a life...a redemptive path...

Perspective...a matter of few understudies have yet gained. 

Hurried, harried onlookers, including the understudy, reacting toward completing short sighted results, often mistakenly think, observing the unruly and disparate strands of apparently unregulated tangle, that confusions unfinished maze is the completed picture. 

The master with erudite adroitness initiates patient, persistent, quiet direction to the novice, seeing future result with anticipation. Often however, no one is at home to hear whispers encouragement or direction as gaping holes grow through the pick and pull of constant distraction.

Early sun predictably rises, awakening repeatedly the small particle filled pathways of eastern light that move inexorably across the room toward the western wake of long afternoon shadow shapes. Tediums repeated instruction or suggestion, often disregarded through hot dry endless shifting light, seem to bring little value. Days...endless days...months, yes...years of threads intersecting in apparent trapped monotony, appear of value small.

The understudy when in occasional active silence listens to his guided heart, fingers then move in collaborative dance, performing his masters’ wishes with care, creativity and responsive love. The master trusts the results in this cooperative affair of direction and response. He is not an uptight task master who drives with dutiful insistence...rather the quiet voice of under pinning counter melody, who, knowing well where best results lie, willingly allows the understudy to journey toward discovery and growth and hopeful maturation. 

The master shows merciful long suffering care, as often the novice decides it’s better to react to the surface by not following his heart but duty’s call. Glancing down, and when invited, the master inserts long threads of grace as revised beauty appears from the often marred. 

The non-robotic understudy is allowed growth with given free will...the tapestries design and pattern although not as perfect as perhaps intended, still reflects the face of magnificence. The two, working in close collaboration bring together destiny of eternal value!

The great tapestry makers of the middle east can teach us much about the value of slow, patient, incessant, careful attention to the learning of craft. A long term perspective that brings exponential value that has multi generational import.
Too often in the frantic west we are interested in volume and quantity at the cheapest price point, not the quietness and unique quality of the original that evokes lasting value. Replacing the original with the replicated, we often dress our dwellings physically and spiritually with the color or self help book of the month...often digitized and never deeper than lip sinking shallowness our soul expressions are replaced with surface and temporal response.
Our educational systems often seem satisfied to concur with and even promote the idea of giving trophies to anyone and everyone who happens to ‘just show up.’ Standards mean little. Students demand with hubristic entitlement that we give them gratuitous rewards for having just arrived as warm bodies and...we often comply, avoiding the confrontation of someone who demands something for nothing. 

On a personal side note...a grade 12 grade of 2% on my final exam, math obviously not being my strong suit was traded for a 50% mark in exchange for a nice little watercolour...and so a life of trading least I wasn't looking for a trophy!
Any work of art, whether a painting, tapestry, a finely thought filled passage of prose, poetry, dance or vocal rendition, is the result of initial vision and then the backbreaking extended work of preparing foundation, choreographic intentionality, layer upon challenging layer leading to possibly a hopeful result. I say hopeful because more often than not, the work is less than grand despite the effort expended.
We work as understudies to emulate the grand weaver but our human limitation and distractedness often leaves us with less than our expected result. It has been rightly said that the joy should be in the journey, not in the destination. It is however a journey of perseverance and often pain, disappointment and discouragement which brings us to see the value of depth and longevity.
Once we have done our utmost as understudy to bring mastery to a piece, a short season of the breeze of warm contentment blows across our soul. The act of repeatedly persevering through struggle brings us closer to character and a feeling of wellbeing and contentment. As example to all of us, the creator looked on His work and said with satisfaction, ‘Hey, this is really excellent!’ 
It is Godlike to enjoy and celebrate the results of our creative labour. Our sense of fulfillment however, has a very short shelf life and soon we begin the long process again. Ultimate reaction and critical acclaim are the short-lived recognition that it is time to go through the door of beginning again. The sale of a work is the tangible reward received to give us the freedom to begin again. The work travels away, journeying into the unknown, likely never to be seen again. It could touch, inspire, cajole or bring a sense of peace. Its presence may affect thousands or just a single soul. The human creator will likely never be aware of its final value! 
The grand weaver, if given place as Lord and Master, interested in the understudy’s growth toward fuller maturity, can also at a time of his choosing decide the tapestries fate, ripping out pattern thread by thread and insistently reworking areas that miss the mark. This can be seen and certainly feel as unjust. Surrendered obedience to his lordship often brings the exact opposite of what is often taught as ‘entitled ease’...rather the doorway of suffering is often opened...the crucible...a personal Gethsemane is sometimes the interim payoff.
If we, the object of the master artist’s hand think somehow we are complete, ready to go out and make our mark, we may be short changing the original idea intended. Surrender to a loving master is a key component to the Christian walk. We are not our own. We have been bought back with great price. We are chosen materials the master desires to use in the tapestry of our lives. The imperative word here is ‘Master.’ We are asked to surrender our lives to his control even if it means ultimately his painful reweaving us more into an image He has in mind...
Often our fellow journeyers throw us the ‘Job friend syndrome’ indicating this pain must be the result of some misguided misstep we’ve made along the way...sometimes that may be true as a good father does discipline his kids...but in this case not necessarily seems to me that growth demands stretching and that always brings some I willing to stand tall in my pain and reflect joy in the ongoing discomfort of Nouwen's book title indicates...'Can You Drink the Cup?'

There are no pat answers to discipleship...but a tapestry we are none the less...and grace exclaims at the end of the day that, bedraggled, abused, hole filled, torn, stained and tied up bits of thread are still a welcome sight to this pursuing, let go...bring him what you have...just as it is...he loves to rework things of value of which you most certainly are...his beloved tapestry!
“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” John 9: 1-3 NIV
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 NIV
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

Copyright 2012
J. Douglas Thompson
Soli Deo Gloria