This is the time of year when resolutions and goals are set. Set. As in stone. As in a set-up for failure. As in “I’ll try…” being the least productive phrase in the English language. So this post isn’t about making New Year’s Resolutions rather about weaving tapestries.
Thinking about tapestries always takes me back to Paris and The Lady of the Unicorn Tapestries. We stumbled upon them, literally. Or almost literally. Coming back from a long Sunday walk, dragging tired, we passed The Cluny, Museum of Medieval Art, and I stumbled, almost turning in but knowing I was way too tired to enjoy it. Somehow the museum had missed my radar when studying things to see and do and we vowed to come back the next day and spend time. We did. Again without research so we had no idea what to expect.
The museum is in a 15th Century mansion built by the abbot of Cluny Abbey. We wandered through rooms of Medieval reliquaries – enough pieces of the cross to construct something forty feet tall… and finger bones of saints to count innumerable numbers – and pectoral crosses and chalices and patens and jewels – until our eyes were tired. And then we turned a corner and saw new-looking construction curving out from a wall and I went to examine the description and discovered the tapestries room. I was astounded. A miracle! I’d read about the tapestries, including George Sands writing, but never expected or dreamed to see them.
We were so tired and about to quit. And then a miracle inside The Cluny which followed the miracle of finding The Cluny.
In “The Shape of Time” George Kubler writes, “The instant admits only one action while the rest of possibility lies unrealized.”
That’s sort of the way I feel about goals and resolutions. They seem so rigid and unlikely to open to passing miracles. The other thing about goals is that life happens. For example, all my sons are home for Christmas and we had all sorts of plans for things-to-do this week. And then a stomach virus came to visit. Life happens. So we all sat around huddled in fleece blankets and watched movies. Or took naps.
But still, there’s the whole end of the year/beginning of the next thing to look at. I do believe in taking stock of the year that’s passing. Unfortunately, the year that’s passing may be a blur for some of us. Too much happened. To many to-dos; too many quick turns into something else; smoke belching from volcanoes and oil erupting from an ocean floor; too many angels dancing on the head of one pin. But if we look carefully, we’ll probably also see a few miracles.
That’s where the tapestry comes in. Instead of setting myself up with goals and deadlines, I’m more inclined to look back and pick up the threads that were useful this year – the greens and blues, yellow, orange. I have several red threads that will carry forward. Just for sparkle. I don’t know what new scene will weave itself into my life this year but I expect it will have some surprises. There will be some threads I’ve dropped that will loop around again. I will leave myself open for miracles. And moments.
And so, in your taking stock, I wish you gentleness and compassion with yourself and others. The tasks that were undone may need to be – or they’ll come back. No regrets. Whirling in place is rarely useful; rather, I wish you a slower walk with unexpected moments to stumble into your miracles.
Happy New Year!