Monday, October 24, 2005

Timing and Tapestries

It is twenty inches high and 230 feet long. Woven into the tapestry is the story of the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings, 1066, when everything changed forever in the British Isles. But that's a different story. The story is the tapestry. It is a work of art, stylish, detailed and complete...on one side. On the other side, it is a tangled mess. It is always that way. Look behind lovely weavings and you see a tangle, a confusion of colors and lines. Which brings me to laughing in church and spontaneous figure skating.

Let me explain.

We laugh every Sunday and Wednesday at Rochester. It's not a non-top laugh-fest, of course, but we find at least one reason to smile when we gather. I have been accused of trying to make sermons a stand-up comic routine and several have suggested that I should really leave the pulpit and go around making people laugh, but that presupposes that I have control over my one liners and tall tales. I fear it is somewhat like figure skating.

Let me explain.

My wife was a figure skater before I married her and ruined everything. She loves to watch figure skating to this day and I, the loyal and faithful husband, sit and watch with her. She will oooh and aaahh when a skater does some frippery move and I will protest, "I can do that!" She gives me the look so I go on: "I just don't know when it's going to happen. I walk out in the rain to get the mail and -- boom! -- a triple toe loop and a double something else!" I can do it... I just can't plan it. The timing is just as big a surprise to me as it is to the neighborhood. The same with my humor. It isn't planned. It just happens... and I am usually as surprised as everyone else (like the Wednesday night when I said that Michael Jackson makes me love America, for in what other country can a small black boy grow up to be an old white woman? C'mon -- does that comment show any evidence of pre-thought?).

My life seems, to me, to be a tangled mess of lines and a confused jumble of colors. Sections of my life are corded in a relentless darkness while bursts of bright color and light fly in from outside my field of vision. What it all meant was a mystery to me until I saw a poem on a bulletin board of a facility that housed and helped adults with Down's syndrome and similar handicaps. It was written by that world famous poet "author unknown" and read thusly:

My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He works so steadily.

Oft-times He weaves in sorrow
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I, the underside.

Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the tapestry
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needed
In the weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

There's a lot in my life I don't "get." There are large sections of it where I can't see the hand of God and other sections that I wish I could forget. The soundtrack moves from comic calliope to Slavic dirge and lights and shadows flit in sequences that defy logic or pattern... but I am only seeing this side of the tapestry. I believe God is weaving something beautiful, adding in the dark and light as He sees fit; as the Master Weaver.

Last story: my mother loves those puzzles with a thousand pieces. I am not so good at them, though I am proud that I finished one recently in less than a week when the box said "four to six years".... but I digress. When she gets stuck and can't find a piece or see where a piece fits she will step away, go to another part of the room, climb on a chair, or sit down low, changing her perspective until suddenly the reason, the place, and the pattern become apparent. I am down here with one point of view. He who can see all, who knows all, and who is love has a different perspective. As I told a teen class recently: you see before you a man who is nearly 49, fairly short, without much in the way of muscle or beauty.... but I assure you: I'm gorgeous! You can't see it, though, 'cause you're standing on this side of the tapestry.....


At 10/25/2005 07:03:00 AM , Blogger DJG said...

It is amazing how God puts people in our paths to speak to our hearts. Your post was just what I needed today.

Thank you!

At 10/25/2005 07:36:00 AM , Blogger That Girl said...

It is ugly from my side! I can't wait to see what God has done with all these knots and loose threads!

At 10/25/2005 08:58:00 AM , Blogger David U said...

As always, a wonderful post PM!

Ice Skater? Next you will be telling us you were a trapeze artist in the circus! :)


At 10/25/2005 10:28:00 AM , Blogger CrazyJo said...

Well, I for one am grateful for your unplanned bursts of humor. It's definitely a gift from God.

At 10/25/2005 12:27:00 PM , Blogger Niki said...

This makes me wonder about the people who have been brought into my life. Some are definitley bursts of beautiful color and others are dark threads...I need both kinds of people to complete the tapestry, for too much color would be overwhelming and too much dark would leave me in despair. God sees how these people are all part of the "big design" in making and shaping me into who I am supposed to be. Great post!

At 10/25/2005 03:45:00 PM , Blogger Laurie said...

as usual, I am wowed and humbled by your words. Thanks for the uplift today, Patrick. May God be guiding your travels.

At 10/25/2005 05:16:00 PM , Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

Patrick -

You were making me laugh out loud when I first somehow stumbled (or pirouetted, to be kind to myself in keeping with your thinking) over to your blog one day about eight months ago and you're doing it still! And in such a glorious, uplifting way, too.

The first post of yours I remember reading (and laughing over) was about you and your son riding around in a classic old car and you were wearing some bright Hawaiian shirt with a parrot perched on your shoulder (how are your parrots, anyway?), guitar and guns at hand . . .

But your comment about Michael Jackson is absolutely histerical! And I needed such today.

Especially the reminder that the dark colors and messy tangles of threads and cords on the back of the tapestry are but for a brief and fleeting moment with a brilliant finish to come forever.


At 10/28/2005 10:04:00 PM , Blogger CL said...

Great post!

At 11/15/2005 03:34:00 PM , Anonymous Danny Gill said...

Having a down day, and I remembered I hadn't checked your blog in a while. The back of my tapestry is so very confused right now. God, please show me the front . . .


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