“For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” – Romans 14:7-8
In his poem, The Way It Is, William Stafford reflects on that which is constant in our life. Through the ups and downs, the twists and turns, and the everchanging landscape, there is that which is fixed.
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
The thread doesn’t change the circumstances of our lives but it does give us a guide to hold on to. It gives us direction and reminds us of the way we follow through uncertain or cluttered times.
While reflecting on Stafford’s poem, theologian and author Parker Palmer composed the poem below. It is a beautiful reflection for the journey of Lent.
Sooner or later, everything falls away.
You, the work you’ve done, your successes,
large and small, your failures, too. Those
moments when you were light, along-
side the times you became one with the
night. The friends, the people you loved
who loved you, those who might have
wished you ill, none of this is forever. All
of it is soon to go, or going, or long gone.
Everything falls away, except the thread
you’ve followed, unknowing, all along.
The thread that strings together all you’ve
been and done, the thread you didn’t know
you were tracking until, toward the end,
you see that the thread is what stays
as everything else falls away.
Follow that thread as far as you can and
you’ll find that it does not end, but weaves
into the unimaginable vastness of life. Your
life never was the solo turn it seemed to be.
It was always part of the great weave of
nature and humanity, an immensity we
come to know only as we follow our own
small threads to the place where they
merge with the boundless whole.
Each of our threads runs its course, then
joins in life together. This magnificent tapestry –
this masterpiece in which we live forever.
While in chains awaiting trial, the Apostle Paul restated his belief articulated in Romans 14 (see above). He tells his friends in the church at Philippi:
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” – Philippians 1:20-21
It is said that on the day the poet William Stafford died, August 28, 1993, that he composed the following lines:
’You don’t have to /prove anything,’ my mother said. ‘Just be ready / for what God sends.’
May the promised grace that meets you and holds you in all seasons of life give you peace this day.