Dark Threads

I realized the other day, it’s been almost exactly ten years since I last visited Scotland.  On that trip, with my sister (her first journey out of the US), we visited Stirling Castle.  Stirling, where the famous (or infamous) Battle of Stirling was fought with William Wallace.  The actual battle, of course, was nothing like was portrayed in the movie Braveheart, being fought over a narrow bridge over an even narrower waterway.  But none of that matters.  When we visited in 2003, the castle was just beginning a complete overhaul and renovation to bring it back to its period glory.  One of the things happening inside the castle was the weaving of a set of unicorn tapestries specifically for the castle, based on the original set, and using hand-loom techniques from the 1400s.  It was fascinating to wander through the mostly empty rooms of the castle, and then to find, almost by accident, a room full of busy weavers, all set before looms nearly eight feet high, in various stages of brilliant creation.  There were reproductions hung about the space, magnifying mirrors in front of some of the workers, and the entire place was hushed, as if the weight of history behind the work muffled all voices inside.  Each thread that shuttled through the loom grew the design bit by infinitesimal bit.  Missing any one of those threads, the entire picture would not be as complete.

I keep the metaphor of a tapestry in my mind when I think about the world recently.  There’s no question that we’ve been weaving some particularly dark threads lately.  Some would argue that the darkness of this pattern threatens to take over the entire picture.  It’s easy to get caught up in a small area, focusing the magnifying glasses of media storms and constant minute-by-minute updates.  It’s in such times that it’s important to pull back and try to see the bigger picture.  Who reports on the good news?  Usually, after thirty minutes of gloom and doom, we might get a thirty-second snippet of a good Samaritan helping a fellow man, or a quick story of a dog rescuing its owner or vice-versa.  In other words, broadcast media devotes approximately 1.6% of its time to good news.  That means that the other 98.4% is devoted to bad news.  Wow.  No wonder we feel like our world fabric is woven entirely in dark threads.

I’be been pulling my focus back lately.  I’m putting my trust in a bigger plan, something that encopasses the entire tapestry, as opposed to the dark corners or raveled edges.  I think of the space photos of the earth, and of the wonderful Bette Midler song, “From A Distance”.  Some people would say that I’m being purposefully ignorant, but I disagree.  I’m not ignoring the dark threads, I’m accepting them, and weaving my own around them, as lightly as I can.  It might be the braver course.  Do I think the world can change? Of course.  But it won’t change en masse.  There’s no magic switch.  Change comes, as always, one thread, one heart, one realization at a time, from within.  Each of us makes the decision to weave a new thread every day.  So, what’s yours going to be?  Light or dark?  It’s entirely up to you.  Either way, the tapestry isn’t complete without it.

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One thought on “Dark Threads

  1. I am completely with you on this. I have limited my exposure to media since just after the election, and I feel much healthier and much more able to contribute in the world that way. The Big Bad News still gets to me somehow, of course. But I can see Big Good News as well. (For me, this has also meant limiting my access to FaceBook.)

    I am not sure that media coverage does anything to really clarify the issues that matter most to me, and I don’t want other people’s tragedies thrown into my house as the scandal of the day. My life has been SO much more focused in the months since I stopped watching/listening to news media.

    I like your historical perspective too. Things that seem long ago are really still here, with us. There is a bigger picture. Yes.

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