One of my favorite Rilke poems begins: “She who reconciles the ill-matched threads of her life, and weaves them gratefully into a single cloth…” For years, I have been learning from this metaphor, and now it seems especially timely.
We’ve all been given some pretty dark, rough threads lately: chaos, uncertainty, loss. These strands don’t look to be short ones, either, but long challenges that face us individually, collectively, and even as a species. They certainly seem ill-matched for making a living as an artist or spiritual coach, for example, or for our wider dreams of abundance and peace. Will I weave them gratefully into a single cloth? Will we? How?!?
I suspect the trick is to braid the dark threads in without making big black knots of bitterness or despair. In fact, as I try to practice the wisdom of Rilke’s poem, I find that using all the threads together keeps the tangles down. If I spend my time in worry and fear, counting and recounting only the rough strings, I twist my perspective and snag the fabric of my days. Whenever I can, I choose instead to remember my real resources, and the daily miracles of Life, as bright ribbon and strong fiber alongside the dark yarn.
I choose this about 20 times a day when it comes to upcoming bills– they’re sometimes dark and rough for me! I literally have to practice weaving in thoughts of the gifts I have right now: potatoes in the oven and a heart full of an inspiring conversation I enjoyed earlier today. The bills might stay dark and bristly, but now they’re surrounded by assets and miracles that open my heart to trust and hope. I can gladly report that this practice is actually working. I’m happier than ever, alongside the occasional freak-outs! I’m much more likely to find creative solutions when I knit all the threads together.
One dear friend of mine weaves stories, with a gift for telling and receiving them. Recently, she uncovered two memories that spoke up from her past: one a deep and painful thread of a story, one a golden, warm experience with her grandmother. Rather than stuffing the rough one back down into the yarn basket of her brain, she let them both rise together and invited them into the criss-cross dance of her life. She allowed their textures and colors to unravel and speak in her heart. So far, she’s written the bright one into a lovely short story of hope that is giving her courage to meet the more difficult experience. Over time, I know she and the Spirit will interweave both into her beautiful life’s cloth.
The art image you see here, titled Threads, entwines many layers of dark and light, texture and insight. My current fascination with collage exploded into the digital realm this year. I used Photoshop computer software to blend scanned images of real thread clippings under modified sketches of the human figure with energy lines, backed by a handwritten copy of this Rilke poem. At first I didn’t know this art would include the poem, but in a flash it came that this figure is “she who reconciles the ill-matched threads.” I am grateful for the illustration!
Rainer Maria Rilke’s “She Who Reconciles” poem, translated by Barrows & Macy
See Threads art image and details
©Melanie Weidner 2009