Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Our Holy Work

The arts of spinning and weaving fascinate me. Each year at the Del Mar Fair (now the San Diego County Fair) I seek the crafts displays. While Keith and I comment on the various quilts and laces we like, I peer from the corner of my eye, searching for the spinning and weaving station. The whir of the spinning wheel entrances me--how a pile of fluffy wool becomes perfect yarn: so even, so dense. I feel the magic of spinning--the creating of something out of thin air.

Many years ago a spinner spotted the glint of desire in my eyes and kindly offered me a seat behind her antique spinning wheel. Patiently she taught me how to hold the wool, how to feed it into the wheel, how to pedal the treadle with my foot. And I was spinning! A surprised breath whooshed out of me as I realized I was holding my breath in fear (of messing up her perfect skein) and in joy as foot and hand and eyes worked in tandem, and yarn spun onto the bobbin. Within three minutes of ducking behind the rope separating the artisans from the public, I was spinning yarn. The kind crafter complimented me on picking up the rhythm so quickly. I glowed.

After returning the skein to the artisan, Keith and I watched the weaving a few feet away. The woman passed the shuttle so quickly back and forth, pulling the bar of the loom toward her with authority, the simple design clarifying with each pass, each pull. Again I was entranced. Again I was invited under the rope and seated with the artisan directing me. I didn't have the strength in my arms to pull the bar back tightly enough on such a large loom, but I enjoyed the simple rhythm of weaving almost as much as the spinning. Both were more than relaxing--they were somehow elemental: the work of the generations of women preceding me, laboring for their families in love...and in need. They produced the very cloth that warmed their families in the few spare moments between cooking and cleaning and running their households. Spinning and weaving were leisurely activities but with an integral purpose--a restful work. A dedicated work.

I was reminded of my yearning to spin and to weave (Keith has promised to make me a spinning wheel some day) when I perused The High Calling of Our Daily Work website this morning after reading their Daily Reflection that arrives in my inbox each morning. Following a link, I came across a beautiful article written by my favourite spiritual blogger, Ann Voskamp. I'll quote part of the article here, but if you would like to read the article in its entirety (and I highly encourage you to do so), you may click here: "Do You Feel Broken and Fragmented?"

The article closes with these paragraphs:

We wear God's seamless silk when we mindfully offer everything we do as a sacrifice to God. Paul explained this clearly to the Romans: "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering" (Rom. 12:1 MSG). When we see our lives as a sacrificial offering unto the Lord—avodah—our work becomes art and our art becomes ministry and our worship becomes serving and our serving becomes work.

Just as the "LORD our God is one LORD" (Deut. 6:4), so our God weaves all of life on only one loom, and there is only one word for the whole of lives rightly lived in sacrifice to Him.

100% pure Avodah.
The image of weaving is one I use often in my poetry--the integration of disparate elements into a unified whole. I pray it daily for Christ's Church--that we may realize His high priestly prayer in John 17 as lovers of God and of one another, as members of His family woven together with His sacrifice and His grace:

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me" (John 17:20-23, ESV).
I am also drawn to Ann's observations of how God's single loom weaves us--warp and weft--into His divinely beautiful tapestry of grace. And He weaves not just part of each of us--but all of us. Our work is woven with our worship, with our service, with our creativity. Inseparable. All is work/worship/service/art--all the same Hebrew word: avodah. And as we lift our avodah as one loving family of Christ, laying our avodah upon His altar, a living sacrifice of all that we have been, are, and will become, He is glorified, not only in the His family the Church, but also throughout the world to those who do not (yet) believe.

God's tapestry is a completed work, but now we only see the torn and ragged underside, where our mistakes and sin seem to mar the perfect design. But God reweaves, making the pattern glorious despite--or perhaps because of--our faithlessness, our wanderings. If we trust His design, we can see His beauty, His glory, shine through our human frailties, uniting us all into His image.

It's our Holy Work, this weaving of the seemingly disparate aspects of our lives into a unified whole, and His work is to continue the process, weaving our hearts to one anothers', our hearts to His heart, our work to His work--all set apart, all holy, for His glorious tapestry which we will finally view in its entirety on the Last Day.

All glory be His,

holy experience


Jane D. said...

love the description of you spinning and weaving Katharine, something I have always fancied having a go at to x.

HisFireFly said...

Beautiful! May I surrender myself totally into His hands, allow Him to weave as He desires, becoming His design.

Susanne Barrett said...

Thanks, Jane and HFF! Your post, HFF, made me think of Edward Taylor's poem "Huswifery." Perhaps I'll post it today. ;)

Jane D. said...

Doh Susanne, so sorry for calling you Katharine!! as soon as I had pressed send I had that niggling feeling that I might have done it - what comes with doing a big catch up on blog reading! Much love x x x x


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