Life Stories & Tapestries

By Sue Reeve

     European travel is high on my ‘bucket list.’ Other than three marvelous days in London, I’ve never spent time on that continent.

     Visualizing a dream vacation is one of my favorite parts of any trip. My imagined European itinerary includes visits to cathedrals and castles. I envision spending hours discovering what I’ve only seen in pictures. Sites I want to see include magnificent tapestries hanging on the walls of ancient architectures.

     I imagine life stories and tapestries have a lot in common.

     A story with only pleasant scenes—chapters, brimming with love, happiness and success—remind me of a scene appropriate for a nursery wall. Pale pink, baby blue, sunshiny yellow and minty green threads woven together create whimsical pictures, eliciting “Ohhhh, how sweet!” sentiments. Eventually, the child occupying the nursery grows up. She wants her room redecorated, and that sweet tapestry will most likely be tossed into the “Give Away” or “Yard Sale” pile.

     In contrast, deep, dark rich threads woven into those tapestries I hope to see one day in European castles and cathedrals have invited generations of viewers to pause, gaze in wonder, murmur “WOW!”  Their ancient stories still resonate. Their legacy endures. Their value is priceless.

     The tapestry of my personal story includes many chapters filled with love—love of family, good friends and God. Many of my days have included happy moments and plenty of laughter. I’ve enjoyed the satisfaction and success that come from meaningful work. For every one of those gently colored threads, I am supremely grateful. Dark threads, however, are also woven into the tapestry of my personal story.

  • I’ve cried buckets of tears.
  • I’ve cried buckets of tears.I’ve made a truckload of mistakes.
  • I’ve cried buckets of tears.I’ve acted cowardly.
  • I’ve cried buckets of tears.I’ve fretted.
  • I’ve cried buckets of tears.I’ve whined.
  • I’ve wrestled with bouts of physical and emotional pain.
  • I’ve felt humiliated.
  • I’ve mourned.
  • I’ve “blown it” and misspoken more times than I care to remember.
  • I’ve climbed one mountain, only to realize another—this one steeper and more menacing—looms.
  • I’ve not always navigated well the murky path of uncertainty.

     My story—probably similar to yours—includes not-so-pleasant chapters. Such chapters seem scattered throughout the tales of most lifelong journeys.

     A while back, this pithy observation was posted on the reader board of a donut shop located near our house:

A journey without obstacles will never be an adventure!

     My head bobbed in agreement every time I passed the donut shop and read those words.

     In spite of all the ups and downs, highs and lows of my journey, a repertoire
of in-retrospect-realizations convinces me:

  • Fears, tears, stumbles, fumbles and shame enrich life stories.
  • Dark threads add meaning and depth.
  • Obstacles along the way transform our journeys into adventures.
  • Tales told in individual’s tapestries endure, leaving legacies for future generations.


Listening on Journey

  • What story would you like the tapestry representing your life to leave?
  • What dark threads have been woven into your story?
  • Considering your repertoire of in-retrospect-realizations, in what ways have those dark threads added depth to your story?

A Murky Path of Uncertainty

A Murky Path of Uncertainty                                                                                                                                            Photo by Connie Lloyd

A journey without obstacles will never be an adventure!




2 thoughts on “Life Stories & Tapestries

  1. So very well said and thought provoking! Thank you, Sue. Inspired to see those threads of regret as threads of God’s redeeming glory.

  2. I was never much interested in tapestries until I lived in France–twice, actually, for a year each time. I remember three sets that nearly struck me dumb because they were so gorgeous, even torn, blackened, faded, and otherwise aged. The Bayeux Tapestries are first on my list, a really primitive rendering of 1066 and the Norman Conquest; they are seen each year by millions of people in an airtight and preserved atmosphere in Normandy. They are so beautiful, in spite of the primitive technique, that they reduced me to tears on a couple of dozen occasions. And then there are The Lady and the Unicorn in a tiny Paris museum, La Musee de Cluny–it might be Le and there is probably an accent in Musee–but they are a sight worth beholding and the last time I saw them you could almost reach out and touch them. And finally, some tapestries in Anger, a bit farther south, called the Apocalypse Tapestry. commissioned about 1370 and since then restored and displayed in the Anjou Region, from which we get the name of the d’Anjou pear. I am not sure these three tapestries would be at the top of my list were I to visit France again but they would certainly be on some list of mine. Thanks for reminding me, Sue, of what Maslow would have called some peak experiences.

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