Tuesday, October 23, 2012

None get to God but through trouble

I’ve heard that by tradition, when a Navajo weaves a rug or blanket she intentionally introduces a blemish that’s detectable by a stray strand or two of yarn. In what is otherwise a perfectly loomed textile, you’ll find a small flaw.

Spirit Line can be seen
at bottom left.
There are various explanations given for this blemish. Called the “weaver’s pathway” or “spirit line,” some say it’s where the weaver’s spirit leaves the rug so she can create other rugs, preventing her spirit from being trapped. Others say it counters negative symbolism in the pattern and allows any evil spirits or energy residing in the rug to be released into energy and imagination for more rugs.

My interpretation: It is through the blemish that healing begins. Or, stated diametrically, it is in the blemish that the spirit enters.

This notion of imperfection being introduced into what is otherwise a perfect creation aligns generally with the Christian faith. While we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139), it’s also true that we are sown in corruption and death (1 Corinthians 15:42). It is through our flawed nature that we discover our need for power beyond ourselves. God’s saving grace becomes our “spirit line.”

As expressed by Catherine of Aragon in a very different context: “None get to God but through trouble.”

My flawed physical nature is very much on display as I cope with the various side-effects of my treatment for melanoma. In present days, it’s through the blemish of cancer that the holy spirit enters me. The “evil spirits” of this disease may be legion, but they lack the power to break my spirit. When you look at cancer this way, paradoxically as a path to healing, it totally changes how one approaches all it requires of you. It gives me the strength to carry on.

While my experience is still limited, I’m finding that God does some of his best work in moments when I suffer most. That was especially true in those days immediately after my emergency surgery in August when I communed with the spirit as I have rarely experienced. I simply relaxed in the knowledge that all was well—appearances to the contrary.

Even now, at a time of aggravating side-effects that are not life-threatening but which seriously cloud my mind, I’m secure in the knowledge that this too will pass. He teaches me patience, among other things. I know, too, that He infuses me with powers of healing and peace that I neither sense nor understand. He is present in ways that transcend discernment. How could it be any other way?

It is through the disruption of cancer that I’ve discovered I don’t have it all together, should I ever have thought that possible. The rug that represents my life has more than just a few stray strands; it is seriously frayed. Out of his old work He is weaving a new one. While it feels like my life right now is a sheer undiluted slog, I know there's more. I know He’s at work within me. It’s that conviction that keeps me going.


Cam McCandless said...

Jeeezzzz -- beautifully written, Peter. Are you getting more erudite as you progress along this journey? I think perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Peter, I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to your updates. Your writing is refreshing to read! It it so profound that you know and understand that your struggles and suffering are purifying your spirit and drawing you closer to the Lord. So many times, pain and suffering seem to have the opposite effect. I am glad that you know better! I will keep you in my prayers!