For years this poem, “The Way It Is” by William Stafford, has woven its way through various aspects of my ministry and life. It has been a strong guide for me.
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.
I was thinking about that thread recently as I reflected on two gatherings of which I have been a part over the past couple months. One is connected to Together Colorado, and the other is a group that gathers monthly to talk about issues of race on the Western Slope.
In the first, we met to heal a wound that had opened as a result of letting go of a thread: respect for one another’s faith traditions and important days. In the jumble of trying to coordinate multiple schedules, we had gone forward with setting a meeting on a day that conflicted with an important high holy day for some in the group. In the second, we met to continue talking honestly as white people about the deep and gaping wound of racism on the Western slope and to discern together how we might join with others to work toward its healing in our area.
Though they are two very different groups, there was a thread that ran through both: vulnerable transparency that fosters love, repair and wholeness. I was astounded by how powerful is this thread and its results when people take hold and follow it. Out of honest confession, both of pain and accountability, came a repairing of rifts that brought light, understanding, and, ultimately, some real healing. Each meeting ended with an openness and freedom that had not been there at the start. There was an enthusiastic willingness to reconnect, to go on together, to see one another as valued companions on the road. There was trust. There was hope. There was real community.
I left each meeting with a full heart. In the midst of all the polarization, the ratcheted outrage, the quick condemnatory rants that are such a common way of relating now, these meetings provided an oasis for me, proof that we can be honest, we can extend and hold vulnerability, and we can heal what we have hurt and move forward. It only takes a willingness to pick up a better thread, hold it and follow where it leads.
I am grateful for both of these experiences. They cleared my lenses to bring me a brighter, more hopeful view. I was reminded that I always have a choice as to the thread I will hold and follow in any situation or circumstance. I pray that even when I get distracted and let it go, I will always pick up, trust and follow again that healing thread of transparent love.
– Rev. Dr. Melinda Veatch
Interim Pastor First Presbyterian Church
Western Slope Faith Leaders Table