A friend recently gave us a dish towel that she wove herself on a loom. After closing our gaping mouths we stuttered in awe, not realizing that anyone (other than in historic Williamsburg) actually knew how to use a loom these days. We asked about her craft and she explained that she took up weaving, in part, when she realized how often in writing, weaving was used as a metaphor to understand life itself.
The conversation brought to mind mind some of the great metaphors of the Christian faith, a shepherd tending his sheep, a farmer tending his vineyard, the potter shaping its clay. It dawned on me that when these words were first spoken they weren’t just given as ideas, they didn’t say “You can imagine that God shaping you is like the way someone might shape clay into a vessel, you have to form it and mold it, yahda yahda yahda.” Quite the opposite, many who heard this spoken had probably, at least at some point, molded clay with their hands. All the talk about shepherds and farmers in our scriptures aren’t just quaint stories, rather they speak to us of an alternative reality, where work allows us to understand and experience the deep complexities of life with Christ.
Reading Wendell Berry for in our reading group,
“The growth of the exploiters’ revolution on this continent has been accompanied by the growth of the idea that work is beneath human dignity, particularly any form of hand work. We have made it our overriding ambition to escape work, and as a consequence have debased work until it is only fit to escape from.
But . . People are joined to the land by work. . . Work connects us to both Creation and to eternity.”
When we see work as the thing that must be done between 8-5 in order to earn a paycheck, as our work is ever more cerebral, about ideas and information, or when physically it requires of us only the most basic skills, standing on an assembly line doing the same repetitive motion, we loose our connection with land and with humanity. And because we know God through land and humanity we loose our connection with him too. Of course He is still there, but it becomes harder for us to remember that.
Forsaking our roles as cultivators of land and escaping manual labor we have gained some leisure in life. But I wonder if perhaps we have lost something far more important. Something that drew us as humans into a physical understanding of communion with God, of life as sacrament and left us with a hollow frame of what was once our faith. Perhaps no amount of thinking can help us regain what we may find if we sit down at a loom and begin weaving.
Thanks for being here,
This post is part of a series of reflections on The Art of The Commonplace. For more Liturgy of Life, subscribe or follow on facebook. To learn more about our reading group, click here, or check out our facebook group. We would love to have you read and ponder along with us.