Friday, May 18, 2012

A Tapestry

I was just thinking on how confusing life gets; how when a person tries to make sense of mind- and heart-twisting events, it's easy to get lost in the muddle of humanness and see only randomness and chaos. I'm reminded of how hard it is to separate the self from the situations and untangle when the mental, emotional, and physical get wound up.

When people try to portray God in a way they can understand and relate to, God is often described as a creative artist. I've heard of God equated to a puppeteer, an architecht, a potter, and a weaver, to give a short list. God as a weaver brings to mind beautiful expanses of bright-colored cloth decorated with intricate designs and complicated patterns, and what we are most likely to picture is the finished side. But every tapestry, rug, or embroidered work, however simple or complex, humble or extravagant, has both a finished and a working side. The side that gets the most acclaim is naturally the finished side, and the working side the most criticism.

The working side is usually not as pretty as the finished: it tends to look more messy, and we are less proud of it because it doesn't look as nice. But the working side gets more of the attention of the artist during the weaving or the sewing. That's where mistakes are worked out and stray ends worked in. Transitions in design, pattern, and color are all worked in on the working side so that the finished project looks seemless and smooth from the finished side.

A few women in my family have been that type of true master whose projects often could be accidentally flipped over and no one would notice the difference. Their handiwork evoked both admiration and envy, but the method of the craft has been passed down through the generations by practiced hands that took lifetimes to learn. For each, their first creations were both simple and messy. Excellence came with practice, and I know of no one who has ever created a perfect work.

Human life is much the same, especially when we think of ourselves as the craftsmen. We tend to be clumsy and our designs crudely worked. Those of us who study under the Master Weaver Christ will learn best over time to create designs we are proud of. And our lives are ultimately woven together not by our own efforts, but by God, who sees the whole design in its completion as well as the value and beauty of our personal experiences and our individual designs.

Another thought to leave you with is that no work can be completed entirely from the working side. It must be turned over from time to time, with the final product in mind, to mark the progress, check its quality, and to simply be admired.

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