My Thread

About a week ago, I read a blog post by someone I greatly admire – Parker Palmer. Palmer is a Quaker elder, educator, activist, and founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal. His writings often linger with me for days, but his weekly Onbeing column titled, “A Thread to Guide Us” pursued me like my mother does when she wants to know if there have been any developments in my love life – gently, with love, but persistent and unwilling to go away without an answer.

Here’s where it’ll help to know more about Palmer’s blog post. He shared a poem by William Stafford (see below) and posed some questions for reflection.

The Way It Is by William Stafford

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

Pretty straight forward, right? Sure. I’ve got a thread, maybe several. Family, friends, humanity, faith, love. These are my constants. They are my way back home. Contemplation done.

Well, not so fast. Family changes. Last week, my brother-in-law’s mother died and then he met his first grandchild days later. Friends grow closer or slip away. Humanity? Hmmm, reading the news makes that a tough one, but maybe. Faith? I’m one of those that never wants to stop questioning. Love? That’s closer. Sing it with me. Love, love, love … all you need is love. I do think of it as a guide. But, is that my thread?

What is one thing that has never changed for me? What guides me? What keeps me on my path?

My parents tell a story about how one of the first words that I could say and spell was EXIT. They explain that I was always on the go and any threshold presented a new adventure. Out the door was always something new to see, experience or with which I could find a connection. That’s my thread – learning. I am never letting go.

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