When the Week Seems to be Unraveling

tapestry3 (1)

“My life is but a weaving, 
between my God and me…”

I started the week intending to write.

But on Monday morning, I looked up at Y as he was getting ready for work and said, “I think Little Jo might be sick.” She’d had a few coughing fits through the night, which continued later on through the day. I kept an eagle eye on her, watching for a fever, recounting the details of previous episodes that took a turn for the worse.

Monday is our Laundry Day, so between the shuttling of wash loads I cuddled Little Jo and sang her songs from her infant days, and drafted little scraps in my head about faith in the everyday.

To my relief, Tuesday’s doctor appointment confirmed that it was likely just a virus. Not asthma — not the flu — “Bring her back in a week if she hasn’t improved.” I breathed again. But by Tuesday evening, when it was difficult to tell why she was crying so miserably, I was fraying at the edges. In my midsection was a malfunctioning wind-up toy that seemed to be coiling and tensing out of a little anxiety and a lot of sheer habit.

So in her darkened room that evening, I held our small, curled child, with a blanket for the chilly wee hours in my lap and a basket of supplies by the rocking chair. God! Faltering spirit to Spirit called — Help me not to wander outside the peace You’ve given. I sat in the dark and listened to her breathe in deep sleep, whispering thanks over her head as Y brought water and did the evening chores.

I listened to her breathe, and thought of how I used to believe that sickness falls outside of our ordinary rhythms. It’s a nuisance, and an obstacle to the life we should be living. Our days would be woven of only the most memorable and productive moments, if the choice were left to me.

But it isn’t, and I’ve begun to see the mercy.

Here in this home, where we’ve asked our Lord to dwell, sometimes the air is warmed by simmering broth on an unsuitably sunny day, and storybooks are read to the backdrop of coughs. A good forehead smack to the pavement or an odd bump on a child’s skin trigger new shifts of watchfulness. I ache to get back to our regular routines at these times, and the prayers come more earnestly then, in the stress and strain. Help us get back to real life, I beg — or would, if I had the gumption. Usually I only get so far as Help us.

And I am answered in a pattern of stories.

All through the pages of the simplified little children’s Bibles and my own this week, I find that the Word of God was meant to be read in places of turbulence. A busy commute in an Ethiopian chariot. The long and gritty road to the Promised Land. Before battles and on the run.

(In a small house, on laundry day, with a virus on the rise.)

It was meant not only for golden hours but midnight vigils also, “for re-setting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living.” Together these passages say, unmistakably: This is real life. 

This is life, with all its illnesses, anxieties, and terrible headlines, and the truest words of all were meant to be lived out in such times as these. Then — could it be that all the faith and creativity I want to cultivate belongs to these hours, and not my wistful ideas of a better time?

I listen to the stilled breathing of a toddler on my shoulder, and rediscover the simple and inherently humble rhythm of breath prayers Tuesday night. Purple and pink princess stories waft up from the table beside the steaming cups of broth. We make a game of delivering colorful spoonfuls of soup to Little Jo’s mouth, laughing because the same pea somehow remains in the spoon till her fifth try. Y leaves a napkin note for me, complete with a sketch of Little Jo in runny-nosed splendor leaning out of my arms to grin at her sister.

These are our slow steps in learning how to use every thread we’re given, instead of cherishing only the brighter ones for our “life’s work” and our homemaking. It’s a lesson I know well, but one that keeps coming back from different angles.

Each time it does, I see it:

How thick and vibrant this tapestry is turning out to be.

 

My life is but a weaving,
between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors,
He worketh, steadily,
Oftimes He weaveth sorrow,
and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
and I the underside.
Not till the loom is silent,
and shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas
and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
in the skillful Weaver’s hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned.

– Anonymous
quoted from Tramp for the Lord, by Corrie ten Boom.

 

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