The fact that nothing is coincidence–that every event, every soul, every offhand word we speak has meaning and significance–is as beautiful to me as it is strange. The idea should make more sense to me than it does, especially since I am a writer. Good writers don’t like coincidence–they create symbols and foreshadowing and patterns in their writing. And when you really think about it, this idea applies to all artists, right? That, though artists occasionally surprise themselves, for the most part, they make art on purpose.
The most painstakingly purposeful, wildly creative, gloriously perfect Artist is God. He is a painter, composer, author, a dancer. He created us in His image, weaving intricate patterns in and out of our lives, just waiting for us to look upon the beauty, not simply of His creation, but of the Creator Himself. And I, as an artist, a creative, a dreamer–I truly believe God has given me capabilities to see, to behold Him in a way that others cannot. But only if I stop.
Only if I look around can I remember that the fabric, the canvas, the pages of my life are not my own. It’s God’s artwork. When I don’t understand it–when things seem strange and meaningless–I have to stop and remember that I am not the one making the art. I am only His audience. It is then that I can find these patterns in the tapestry He is weaving.
During this time of rest at home, God has been showing me how to stop. How to take notice of the beautiful thing He is creating. How to find the threads.
So, with no further adieu, here is a little piece of my tapestry–a collage of “threads” from my life that wove together spectacularly. Hope you like them.
Song entitled “The Finish Line” by Snow Patrol, listened to on many nights before bed.
Journal entry, the day before my twentieth birthday, 2013.
“There are some moments in your life that are simultaneously the beginning and the end of everything you ever knew. I think of the factors going into these moments like so many pieces of string tied together in the middle into one giant knot. From the left side, these strings, all different colors and coming from so many points in space, converge into that knot, that moment. And there are smaller knots in those strings, before the big knot. It’s a messy, tangled, complicated knot that is very difficult to unravel. It is difficult to see parts of the whole. What went where, how these million strings tie together to form the mess in the middle. How on earth we got into this knot in the first place. Lines and lives converge into a single point, and suddenly, nothing will ever be the same.”
Exodus 35:35, ESV.
Poem, untitled, written three days before I quit student teaching.
I am just one string
made up of tiny knotted strings,
tied together to a million others,
trying not to get too tangled,
from a million points in space
to this specific moment in time.
Sometimes I worry
these knots are too messy to be straightened out,
and sometimes I fear
of everything I know (knew),
of all the good things
my straight strings,
You pull and weave,
pull and weave me, one thread in
an invisible tapestry,
and it hurts
like a comb to tangled hair.
I do not know where I’m going,
only know the fastest way between
two points is a straight line.
But Your way
has many curves and loops,
and it takes a lot more time
to sort out the knots.
Strings come in, come out,
and I don’t know which was what before,
only that I cannot let these knots
become too small, too hard to touch.
If there’s a Big Bang,
a place of origin,
somewhere I can find myself again,
the core where I began–
One day these strings will
make a rope
and I’ll climb it all the way up
to the very edge of You.
But today they’re just
a little tangled,
a spider’s web after the rain.
So teach my fingers to be more gentle
as I navigate the lines
I drew in the sand,
the lines I crossed, forgot,
on the palms of my hands.
Edited photo of “Night for Day” by Jason Paradis, an installment art piece made of rocks, painted canvases, and blue string, located in Dittmar Gallery.
An excerpt from Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist, read this past Saturday in the armchair of my den, circled and underlined and starred.
“And we [create] because it makes us feel aware and alive and created for a purpose more than almost anything else in our lives. There are a zillion things I don’t do well, a thousand things I do just because I’m human and have to, and when I do them I certainly don’t feel any spark of having been created for something very specific and tender. I don’t feel anything when I do the dishes or when I drive or when I buy groceries.
But every once in a while, when I write, I feel that feeling of a thousand slender threads coming together, strands of who I’ve been and who I’m becoming, the long moments at the computer and the tiny bits of courage, the middle of the night prayers and the exact way God made me, not wrong or right, just me. I feel like I’m doing what I came to do, in the biggest sense. That’s why I write, because sometimes, every once in a while, I feel entirely at home in the universe, a welcome and wonderful feeling. I could cry at that feeling, because it happens so rarely. Doing the hard work of writing makes me feel like I’m paying my rent on a cosmic level, doing the thing that I can do to make the world a little better decorated. Writing wakes me up, lights me on fire, opens my eyes to the things I can never see and feel when I’m hiding under the covers, cowering and consumed with my own failures and fears….
Use your dreams and your secrets and your neglected, hidden imagination. Write a love song for someone who will never love you back. Write a comedy that used to be a tragedy, because you can write any ending you want for your own story. Write a song that says everything you’ve ever wanted to say to your father, or fill a canvas with all the things you hope you find out that God is, when you meet Him someday. Dance till your feet bleed, sing till you’re hoarse, spill out all your stories like pouring wine into thin-stemmed glasses, the liquid rich and blood-red…
This is your chance to become what you believe deep in your secret heart you might be…Do the work, learn the skills, and make art, because of what the act of creation will create in you.”
Photo, taken 20 June 2014, captioned with Colossians 2:2, The Message.
“I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery.”