The Fabric Holds



This life we live is a woven thing.

Weaving in and out of each of our stories are some glorious threads that glisten and shine; and then there are those others, the darker ones that cannot reflect light at all. Sometimes, the tension between the two can feel chaotic, without design or beauty. We can feel buried under the weight of it all as the loom of life pulls and pushes us in ways we might not choose to go.

When those days come, I try to remind myself that I am only one small piece of the much larger work God is creating across time. That larger piece is a design of such magnificence that not one of us can imagine its depth and beauty. Those “Thin Places” we talked about last month sometimes give us a peek—a hint—of what God is up to in the ongoing creation of life. That old cliché—the one about seeing only the backside of the tapestry God is weaving? I think it’s true.

There are days when we catch a glimpse of the front, though. Moments when the glory-light shines in and our lungs feel like they’re breathing heavenly air. In the fabric of my own life, there have consistently been some glittering threads, ones that make me gasp with gratitude and sigh with recognition and relief.

Family is surely one of those. The beauty of creation is another. Music, of almost any variety, can make me blink with delight, as can many different artistic or architectural endeavors. Athletic prowess, graceful or skillful dancing, the laughter of children, the welcome touch of a cool breeze on a warm day—all of these things help me to catch a glimpse of the design side of that tapestry. They give me a small corner of the Big Picture to hang on to, and hang on I do, especially when the darker seasons come.

During the 3+ years of our eldest daughter’s journey with her husband through terminal disease, that darkness sometimes felt like an intrusive member of the household. It was always there, adding weight and worry to every moment of every day.

Yet in the middle of it all, our two other children each welcomed a new baby into their lives and ours. Born one month apart, those cousins brought powerful reminders of life, even in the midst of death. Now, nearly ten years later, they continue to be among the brightest threads in our family fabric.

A delightful anniversary trip to France wove its way right through the middle of my husband’s cancer journey. My brother’s sad and mystifying final journey was intermingled with finding sobriety and real friendship in the 12-step program. A dear sister’s betrayal by a husband of over 30 years wound its way through the loving care of her children and grandchildren, ending with a new home, in a new state and a deep sense of peace about God’s guiding hand through it all.

My husband and I now have the vantage point of years, the ability to look back over a lifetime together. It’s a point of view that allows us to catch bigger and bigger glimpses of the right side of our fabric, the beautiful picture that is being woven around us, in us, through us and with us.

Just this week, we woke early, and talked quietly about the ways in which the long threads of our life are finding their way to some pretty wonderful end points. Yes, age means we can see the end point for our own journeys much more vividly. But it also means that we have the privilege of looking backward and seeing beauty emerge from the light and brilliant pieces of our story—from the dark and somber ones, too.

The loom keeps pulling the threads, all the threads, into a design that surprises, delights and humbles us. While I am not a fan of the creaking joints or the sudden, surprising reminders that we are no longer young, I am thoroughly enjoying the view from this place. It’s been a good life, and you know what? The fabric holds.


Image credit: distelfliege