Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Unbeautiful Tapestry of My Life

She who reconciles the ill-matched threads of her life,
                 and weaves them gratefully
                 into a single cloth – 
                 it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall
                 and clears it for a different celebration

                 where the one guest is you.
                 In the softness of evening
                 it’s you she receives.

                 You are the partner of her loneliness,
                 the unspeaking center of her monologues.
                 With each disclosure you encompass more
                 and she stretches beyond what limits her,
                 to hold you. 

-      Rilke

Every moment of my life begins a new thread that extends throughout the whole of my existence in this world until my very last moment comes to an end. With every moment comes an increase of the material that makes up my life as new threads are added. The threads themselves do not stretch on in uniform color; they extend in varying shades as they age and mature, until each thread is a spectrum in itself, reflecting all the pain, pleasure, sadness, joy, hope, despair, peace and desperation that is contained in each one. I sit down to my work and am distressed to find that not only are the threads ill-matched amongst themselves, but that each thread is itself a kind of contradiction. The threads of my life are a mess; a disaster. Certainly, I can weave them together, but they will not amount to anything beautiful. In the end, the tapestry that is my life will be like each single thread: chaotic, ugly, ill-matched. Why bother with the work of weaving? Of reconciliation between the threads? Why bother when I cannot possibly make anything beautiful from these rough and ugly moments?

Why bother? Because this tapestry – this single cloth – is my gift to You. 

This single cloth that is my life - not beautiful, but whole - will be the gift I bring to You, Christ Child. I will place it in the hands of Your Blessed Mother that she might wrap You in it on the cold night of Your birth into our world. It will be a small and poor sign of the thanksgiving and reparation that I desire to give to you. 

I will place this cloth in Your hands, O High Priest of New Covenant, that You might use it to wash the feet of your beloved priests. With it You will purify and sanctify them, warm them, and prepare them to be worthy and holy ministers of Your most sacred mysteries. 

One more time I will bring this cloth to You, Crucified Lord, and I will press it to Your torn and bloodied face as You endure Your passion. In Your abundant mercy and love You will leave the image of Your own most holy face upon it; You will bless it, sanctify it, and make it holy. Men shall look upon the imprint of Your face, left on this poor and unworthy life and they will see Your glory in it – in my deepest wounds they will see Your glory and be dazzled.

So, I will take up the loom of prayer and will weave these ill-matched threads gratefully into a single cloth. I will give it to you - my poor and unbeautiful life - and You will make it holy. 

Now I begin to understand the purpose of my life: every moment is part of a single whole that is meant to be a gift for You. It is all for You. So, I set about the work of driving out from my heart all the voices and companions of this world – the chaos and pandemonium I have hitherto welcomed. I clear it that You might enter in . . .

. . . Now I am empty and alone. How desolate I feel. I am empty, reduced to silence, lonely, and holding in my hands, as a gift for You, the ugly and ill-matched tapestry that is my life. How small and miserable I feel. Will You not enter my heart? I have emptied it for You, O Heavenly Bridegroom, that the celebration of Love and Adoration might begin. Enter, Honored and Only Guest, into this heart that has been emptied in search of You. 

My heart has been swept clean, and the poor gift that is my life is ready. Where are You? Why do You not reveal Yourself? Why do I spend my days in Adoration of this Eucharist that both is You and hides You? You are here, but I am brought to my knees under the weight of this crushing loneliness. You are here, but I begin to think myself mad as I speak into the deafening silence. Do I speak these absurd monologues only to myself? Perhaps I have gone mad . . . 

. . . Should I not fling open the doors of my heart to let back in that which I have cast out? The companions and noises that I can see and hear? . . . I can wait a little longer . . . 

. . . In glimmers and whispers I begin to find You. You are the pearl at the center of a great loneliness – a treasure that is found when the doors of solitude have been shut tight. You are the great Word, heard only in the silence of an empty heart . . . 

. . . With each glimmer and whisper You enamor me more and more. I forget all about the loudmouths outside; I forget that I am lonely and isolated; I even forget about this unbeautiful tapestry that has brought me so much sorrow and shame. I am no longer living within the limits of my own self. You encompass me and live within me. I am caught up in You. At last, when I am no longer I, I am large enough to hold You.

- Anonymous