The Woollen Mill
by Jean Earle (1909-2002)
What we are hangs upon that moment -
Which will come -
When the cross is taken in the warp
And the weave is certain.
On the drying - ground
Where the wet wools are hung to blow,
I was first aware of the pattern
To do with light …
Look back, from evening. A widespread day
Maddened yet skilled with light …
I suppose every turn of the earth
Is loom to someone's light.
A skein untangles
Out of wind and sun,
Lies in the ordered warp, patterning
Scarlet, blue -
The cross is taken.
* Woollen is not a typo – that was the poet's spelling
A copy of this poem was given to me by my spiritual director several years ago. I had been making noises about pulling my loom out and trying to weave again. About that same time I had quit a job and was beginning my struggle with what to do next with my life. A colleague said to me, “When you begin to weave what you want to weave you will know what you are supposed to do.” Hmm... I am beginning to feel confident enough in my weaving to choose my own colors, textures, structures – I am weaving what “I want to weave.” What does that mean in the rest of my life.
I started this blog on Wednesday morning because I was procrastinating. I really needed to be doing something else. For a week or so I had been thinking about using this poem in the blog. But how was I going to weave this poem into something meaningful. So on Wednesday morning, I typed out the poem and began to write - getting to the part where I said "What does that mean in the rest of my life."
And then I realized
a) I was doing what I was supposed to be doing - not procrastinating - I was putting my busy-ness into perspective - instead of journalling - I was blogging - but it was all about getting centered in my own purpose as I move into 6 days of madness.
b) I am doing what I am supposed to be doing - back to what my colleague said - I am weaving all of the parts of my part life into one cloth. .... working (coordinating spiritual retreats), parenting, being a spouse, being a friend, being a spiritual director, being a board president, volunteering, weaving - no one part of my life is dominant, all are part of the greater pattern - the structure - my life.
Tomorrow I leave for Asheville to coordinate an Advent retreat. Advent a time of quiet waiting, anticipation, hopefulness. May I find a way to weave a bit of that for myself in this time away. May you find a way to weave it into your lives as well.
O come, O come Emmanuel be with us and in us this Advent season - help us to understand all that we are to be.