It’s a quick walk on a fine thread, this gift of life, this privilege of breath and beating heart and strength to step ahead. So many disappear, flash out of sight, thread cut off before its final length unwinds. We shout “no!” and cry, and move along, subdued, with more awareness of the dangers, right and left, above and underneath. It’s a wonder that we live at all, considering the tragic possibilities inherent in our threads’ trajectories. And yet we push ahead, and marvel that we share the lavish brilliance of sunrise, sunset, moon-glow, star sparks, the precious wash of rain and winds to dry us off again, the vibrant greens of grasses and the trees, and sunshine on the panoply of swimming, crawling, flying, running, purring, playing, living things on their own threads. Woven all together, we are the tapestry of Earth. Creation. Devotion. Delinquency. Destruction. Survival. Commotion. Celebration. Revival. Departure. Graduation. Just one thing holds it together and keeps it winding towards a meaningful conclusion, resolution of stories silenced early with translation of anomalies into the fabric of Truth – one thing: the Hand of God. I rest in this. And breathe. And vow to use the energy of every heartbeat to contribute to his Grand Design.
I sat in my “grove” in Ferkessédougou the morning these words came flowing into my notebook, watching a spider move silently along her nearly invisible thread. She had woven a complete and intricate oval that was shimmering in the sunlight, a miracle of expert lacework framed in the air between two leafy branches. Elsewhere there were leftovers of other webs, tangled threads hanging down, broken off, those spiders gone. All it would take was a strong wind to carry away this masterpiece too.
My mother-in-law has lived a long and fruitful life. At 99 ½ years, she has woven a strong web supporting many loved ones with her prayers and love, and now that her lungs can barely breathe even forced oxygen, her thread is coming to its end. She’s been on hospice for over a week, and although it sometimes seems as though that endpoint has come, she is still hanging on.
Her daughter, Diane, came to help with the long hours of care and accompaniment that were being managed by Bev, Diane’s older sister. After four days, she wanted to leave to go home for the Easter weekend, but was tired so decided to sleep there in Saginaw one more night. She did not wake up here on earth; sometime during the night, her “thread” broke and she left for Glory. Her parting was a shock.
She had truly contributed to the Grand Design, letting her love for the Father overflow to bless others around her. When I picked up my dishrag this morning I remembered that she had made it for me when we were first moving into this home, evacuated from Côte d’Ivoire by war, unexpectedly putting things together in Detroit through the kindness of friends. The red dishtowel was one she brought me just one week ago, the last time I saw her, when we visited the family in Saginaw. She was gifted in giving. After news of her passing had gone out, the husband of one of her immigrant friends back home in Pennsylvania wrote me that Diane was going to be deeply missed: she was his wife’s best friend, and every week she cooked brown rice and brought it over to her. Diane also told the truths of the Word to children in the form of stories that enthralled them. She loved the Lord and his Word, and was a woman of prayer. And I will never forget our last conversation, just last Wednesday – she grabbed me aside to ask how the Lord is leading us in ministry in our new phase, retirement. And she listened. Her spiritual fervor is unforgettable. She left many silken threads woven into God’s plan.
And my mother-in-law still awaits her turn to go.
Diane graduated on Good Friday, when we take time to remember that Jesus offered himself as the sacrifice that would open up the way to life forever with him. And Sunday we celebrate his resurrection. He is alive! Those of us who trust in him pass over from this fragile thread to a real, solid life that will never end.
It moves me to renew my commitment to live a purposeful life, aware that my thread is also only temporary, but part of the Creator’s Grand Design. He knows his plan and how he wants me to participate in it. And he is love; his purpose is one I can rest in.
The same is true for you: may you also find peace in the truth that his Hand holds the world, and you. May we pay attention and savor the moments we are given as we take this brief walk on the fine thread of life.