I had been told how the old-time weavers, all the while they were making their beautiful and intricate patterns, saw no more than the backs of their shawls. Nothing was visible to them but a tangle of colored threads. They never saw the design they were creating until they took the finished fabric from their looms.
The parallel to the mortal lot is plain. Human experience appears to us – as the shawls did to the weavers – to be no more than incomprehensible tangles of colored threads, whereas in fact life represents the ordered threads in a great design – the design being woven daily on the loom of eternity. ~Ernest Gordon from Miracle on the River Kwai
“Although the threads of my life have often seemed knotted, I know, by faith, that on the other side of the embroidery there is a crown.” ~Corrie Ten Boom in My Heart Sings
What does it say about me that I’ve covered the back of countless embroidery projects so the tangles are no longer visible? There is a sense of shame in that hiddenness of the messy side of existence, the not wanting to admit how really chaotic life is at times.
Yet out of the incomprehensible comes beauty. Out of the mess comes order and harmony. What appears knotted and tangled and makes no sense becomes grace on our heads, like a crown.
Forgiveness is letting go of a bell rope. If you have ever seen a country church with a bell in the steeple, you will remember that to get the bell ringing you have to tug awhile. Once it has begun to ring, you merely maintain the momentum. As long as you keep pulling, the bell keeps ringing. Forgiveness is letting go of the rope. It is just that simple. But when you do so, the bell keeps ringing. Momentum is still at work. However, if you keep your hands off the rope, the bell will begin to slow and eventually stop.
Corrie Ten Boom
In just two weeks our Chapel family will begin observing Holy Week. Before the Sunrise Resurrection Sunday worship on our farm hilltop followed by a service inside the church and Easter brunch together, we gather for a soup and bread communion supper on Maundy Thursday and a Tenebrae (Shadows) Service on the evening of Good Friday. At the end of the somber Tenebrae service, our steeple church bell tolls, the bell rope pulled repeatedly as we sit within darkness in the sanctuary. This knelling of Christ’s death resonates in our own bodies. It is unmistakeable, hearing the pealing of our guilt and shame reverberating out for all to hear.
When the bell rope is released, the bell continues to ring a few times but then quiets itself. We sit in ensuing silence, aware the debt we could never pay on our own had been paid in full for us. We have been forgiven, the tolling of the bell now ceased, and the toll of our sin reconciled.
God has let go of our debt, freeing us from the shadows where sin had trapped us. We are able to then stand and walk out, redeemed by a flesh and blood God suffering in our place.
In the morning of the third day, we hear Him say our names from the empty tomb. Forgiven, all guilt and shame let go, we rise from our shadows to answer His resonating call.
Then Jesus told them: You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.
Many older people when stressed with illness, while hospitalized or disrupted from their routine, will become disoriented, even confused in the evening, unable to sleep, or be at ease. It is referred to as “sundowning” by the care providers who must try to keep an older patient safe, calm and oriented to time and place. It isn’t at all clear what is happening in the brain as the sun goes down, but over the years of watching this happen in my patients, I think it is a very primal fear response to loss of light. We don’t know where we are in the dark and feel lost. We don’t know what is out there that may hurt us.
Jesus knew the dangers of the night, both as God and as man. As the Light of the World, soon to hang from the cross as the sky blackened and the sun was covered over, His illumination will dim and die. At that moment, man is plunged into darkness like none ever known before. This is extreme “sundowning” where all hope is lost, and we can so easily lose our way.
Yet if we stay rooted to the spot, and not leave the cross, we may find comfort in our troubled state, and can put down our heavy burden and rest. We can celebrate the arrival of brilliant light in our lives. Instead of darkness overcoming us, our lives are covered in the glory and grace of Resurrection Day.
The Son settled among us. Darkness can no longer overtake us, even at death. The Light will illuminate the path we are meant to take.
“No matter how deep our darkness, He is deeper still.” Corrie ten Boom in The Hiding Place