“We don’t accomplish anything in this life alone…
and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry
of one’s life and all the weavings of individual
threads from one to another
that creates something.”
Sandra Day O’Connor
Ideas for blog posts usually begin when I hear a phrase, story, idea or see something on the street or a picture in a book. This week my idea comes from a phrase heard on a NPR show:
…..”a tapestry of voices spoke out…”
That short thread of words just sounded so beautiful. So full of possibility, unity, hope, beauty.
(Comet Halley, Bayeux Tapestry, Wikimedia Commons)
Somewhere in the Bayeux Tapestry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtGoBZ4D4_E is an ancestor of mine. On a piece of paper, somewhere in this house, I have the name of that person. Though I do not know his name at this moment, and cannot, right now, place him in the tapestry, I am because of him. Without knowing where he is in the tapestry I can view this video, or gaze at photographs of the tapestry, or maybe someday see it in person, and see what came before him as well as after him. People and events before him allowed him to be who he was. His participation in these events and survival allowed for me to be here. We are a tapestry, the intertwined threads of people, experiences, connections all creating a woven wonder that tells a story not only of our world’s history, our country’s history, our town’s history, our family’s history, but our individual history.
“Destiny itself is like a wonderful wide tapestry
in which every thread is guided by an unspeakable tender hand,
placed beside another thread and held and carried by a hundred others.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
The other day I was cleaning out my study. I found envelopes and boxes holding forgotten treasures. Reminders of people and experiences, stories and places from a long time ago. I have written elsewhere on this blog about defining moments in my life, but these were fresh, newly found, joyful with a hint of melancholy. Pictures from Northeast Elementary School, High School, and college. A journal from India, a card from Japan, a trinket from Greece and a bracelet from Denmark. There was a love letter from my husband and a poem from a long ago boyfriend. Tied with a ribbon were the letters I sent my mother when I lived in Greece.
Who I am now is a person woven out of the threads of love and pain, people and places, experiences and dreams. I am woven with the love of Rosalie who I haven’t seen in 35 years. She would visit me once a week in Japan when I was very sick and massage my tired body. She would check my eyes and skin color and help me sip fenugreek tea. I contain a ribbon of Rick who laughed and cried and took pictures of everything. He gave me a copy of Gurdjieff’s Meetings With Remarkable Men and wrote inside “To my remarkable friend”. There is a strand of Elise who I have known since I was three. We have millions of shared memories and stories. There is a strong sparkling thread from AnaLisa who I love so dearly. Everywhere in my tapestry are ribbons from my husband, siblings, parents, my children, the children I teach, family, friends, mentors….people who gave me a piece of this thread and that yarn, to add to the development of me. And there are also threads from people who contributed dark colored threads that run and stain threads near them. People who brought hurt and sorrow. There are bright white strands for the shimmering Taj Mahal and the snows of the Himalayas. Yarns of blue and green for oceans and rivers, lake and ponds. Interspersed are patches of floral tones for the daisies in my wedding, the lilies in my garden, the funeral flowers of my parents, the bougainvillea of my in-laws, the Impatiens and lavender of my grandmother, the jasmine from Betsy, the lilacs from Holley. Musical threads might be glittery or soft. There are the breathtaking braids of Adagio and Allegro by Boccherini and the harp playing the lilting notes of Pachabel’s Cannon, each weaving and caressing the warp of my tapestry. These warp threads are strong to hold the tension of the weaving together the spun fibers of the memories of being a child, of falling in love, getting married, of giving birth and becoming a mother, of loosing parents, of laughter and tears. Millions of threads in all sizes and colors, soft and coarse, many supple, some inflexible. Some break and are tied with a knot. A bump that never goes away.
We are woven from the sounds of voices that talk of love and hate, that sing of joy and sorrow, that chant of defiance and resoluteness. Woven from the sounds of a baby’s gurgle and a parent’s cry of fear. We are woven from the voice that orders a bomb to fall and the command of a doctor who calls for the tools to rebuild broken bodies. We are woven with the words of priests, ministers, clerics, Lamas, Rinpoches, Gurus, Rishis, Ayatollahs, Imans, Mullahs and Rabbis, to live a life according to divine doctrine.
We are woven from millions of threads. Threads of all kinds, all colors, all fibers. We are a tapestry of star dust, songs, stories, love, hate, experiences, interactions, dependency, self reliance….
We are a woven tapestry of a medley of things, people, thoughts, experiences….
“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry,
and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry
are equal in value no matter what their color.”
We cannot always remove a thread when we decide we don’t like. It may compromise the whole tapestry. We may have knots where broken threads have been fixed, leaving an unwanted bump. We may have to use a certain color to brighten another, or a finer fiber to soften a coarser strand.
Mistakes and all. Designed or impromptu. Thick or thin. Recycled or new. Dark or light. Bright or dull. Tangled or smooth. Sometimes we get to pick and choose the thread. Other times it is what is given to us and we use it whether we like it or not to keep going.
Each thread of the warp and weft is what holds together the tapestry of who we are. We are each a vibrant, diverse tapestry that is still unfinished. And our threads, yarns and ribbons we share with others become a part of the tapestry of who they are.
“We are all woven together in the great web of humanity,
and whatever we can do to benefit and uplift others
will reflect in blessings upon ourselves.”
Ellen G. White