Thursday, May 21, 2009

Life is like needlepoint...thoughts on perspective

My mom's mom, my "Grammy" Jean, was an artist. She (front lower right in the yellow shirt) doesn't look like it here, but in her day, she was an accomplished painter, seamstress, sculptor, knitter and so much more. She also created beautiful, large scale tapestries (think love seats and major wall installations!) in needlepoint. The canvas on the right side of the photo is her interpretation of The Three Wise Men. She often said that all of her brains were located in her fingers! I don't think that's exactly true, but she was truly gifted!

When I was young, my gramdmother would patiently try and teach me the fine art of needlepoint. As you might guess, the operative word in the previous sentence is "try"! I've never gotten the hang of it! While I'm not great with needlepoint, I am very blessed to have inherited not only her name, but some of her creative talent. I feel very close to her whenever I am in my studio making jewelry.

Anyway....a few years ago, a co-worker gave me a new appreciation for needlepoint! As a metaphor to appreciate the beauty that lies in the trials of life. Cindy is a very devout Christian woman with her own special ministry. To help people understand the big picture, she frames her conversations in the context of needlework. Her theory...when you are the artist, your skill and confidence determine how you approach your project.

Beginners head to the local craft/fabric store and select a kit with an appealing design. The canvas is pre-printed and the yarns, colors, design and very often the tools are all neatly tucked into the package. Assuming the artist has even a modest amount of talent and patience, the finished project is pretty well assured and generally looks beautiful. However, if you've ever looked at the back side of a beginner project, you know that the view is less than beautiful. Knots, frayed threads, crossovers, slipped stitches, and more decorate the back of the canvas. Which is why beginners will inevitably head to the local frame shop and have the framer stick a piece of cardboard over the cover it up!

On the other hand, if the artist is accomplished and confident, a pre-printed design is rarely, if ever selected. The artist gets an idea and then selects a blank canvas, the yarns and embellishments which suit the mood. Very often, timing and the yarns dictate the final design and I have seen my grandmother change her mind in the middle of a project! Only the most confident can do that and have it turn out to be anything in the end!! But even the most accomplished needlework artist still has her ( Great Uncle Ken did exquisite counted cross stitch!) knots, frayed threads and less than perfect stitches. Instead of leaving and covering up the imperfections, they will patiently work until the back is almost as beautiful as the front. There are still knots, but they are usually small and work into the grand design. The artist may even share the story of how the knot came to be and how she worked through it.

I believe in God. And this will sound presumptive, but I'm pretty sure God took needlepoint lessons from my grandmother! Here's the tie-in. We - as humans - are threads in one really big, gigantic tapestry and God is an accomplished and very confident artist. God does not need a pre-printed design, He ultimately knows the design for each of our lives. I, like Cindy believe that He knows exactly the colors (situations) and threads (people) to be used in the design for each of our lives.

Seriously....take a minute to think about this! He knows the joys and the sadness, the circumstances, the pain, the reactions....everything. Each and every person you come into contact with is a thread in your tapestry. Some are around briefly and add an accent. Some are in your life for a while, fall away and come back to fill in another part of the canvas. Others are in your life longer and create part of the focal design. Still others form the borders or add special embellishments. Each circumstance brings you into contact with more people (threads) for your special design. And you....are a thread in the lives of everyone you know or have come in contact with. (Kinda takes your breath away there for a minute!?)

As we make choices, we potentially change the design. Yet He works with us to weave an incredibly beautiful, rich, colorful, tapestry that we each call a life. He directs the path, and is responsible for some of the knots and slipped stitches. But I believe that He is a patient artist and works to minimize the impact. But there are times, very often through our own choices and actions, that we are the ones creating the knots and loose stitches of our lives. We can work patiently to work through the knots or we can become frustrated and tie them ever tighter. We can turn to Him and count on his perspective to help ease the bumps and crossovers. We can learn to appreciate the beauty of the process or choose to look for something to cover up what we don't want seen.

To Him, it is all part of the grand design and it is completely beautiful....knots and all! To us...maybe not so much! I've come to believe the difference is perspective. He is always looking at the front of the canvas and we are looking at the back! What if we changed our perspective?

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