Thursday, October 05, 2006


Weaving a Life

I learned the words long ago: warp, and weft. Or, warp and woof. The books said these were the threads that make up cloth. What they all left out was the difference between them, and not until years later did I learn what it was about.

When you see a picture of a loom, you see some parallel threads passing through the machinery. These are the warp threads, and they tend to be stronger. It depends on the fabric being made. Rugs, for example, have very heavy warp threads. The weft threads, carried back-and-forth through the warp by the shuttle, are lighter. Fabric is described as "threadbare" when the weft is worn away, leaving only the stronger warp.

I've always thought that intellect is the warp that holds the threads of life's tapestry together. Now I'm in some doubt about this. Intellect might just be a dime a bushel, while emotion is the real hidden treasure, unappreciated, misunderstood, absence indicated in a thousand clumsy and disheartening ways of living. Less than human.

Well, so be it. At least intellect won't run out on you when things get tough. Intellect is a tool to use in avoiding difficulty and then getting out when problems find you anyway.

Except... why go on with any of it? When God brought me back to himself three years ago, one big question on the list was why I should bother getting out of bed in the morning. It turns out that intellect is a threadbare blanket against a long, cold night. Well, that's not a problem. We all know the world is a cold hard place. Learn to live with it. Nothing will change. Warm sunlight and bluebirds are illusions, or at least temporary. I've gotten answers to many questions by simply asking God. We discuss things. This one, however, is always greeted with silence. The only answer I have, and it's not exactly satisfactory, is that I'm here because God wants me to be here. What's the connection with getting up in the morning? Very slight.

Maybe that's the way God wants it. I have a strong tendency to automate things: come up with answers, and run them like computer programs so that I can quit thinking about them. If God gives me no answer to why I should bother to live, I have to keep asking. I have to keep going to Him. He knows me and my underground ways. This way it's kind of like the manna the Israelites found in the desert: it didn't last longer than the day. You have to go out each day and find more.

I mistrust emotion. In contrast with the nice hard edges and predictable behavior of intellect, emotion is about as easy to pin down as a drop of water. You can't even see it square on. Try to pick it up and it moves, elusive, illusive. The direct approach is about as effective here as it is with trying to herd cats. How can a life depend upon anything so shapelessly squishy?

I wouldn't even pay attention except that emotion is a big deal with God. He's the one driving this exploration. I knew a long time ago that no decision was good that overlooked emotion, but it's still a slippery process. In recent years this has become even more slippery because God shines his light on the whole sloppy assemblage of my life and I'm acutely embarrassed. My natural response has been to become even more intellectual, ruthlessly suppressing feeling. Life has been pretty empty. I go through the motions and wait for something better.

The better that I want is intellectual in nature. God can keep his emotional better, except that he has me by the tender parts. I can't bear to be parted from him, so I have to turn around and look at this emotional mess and give up my hard, bright intellect.

One thing is sure: you don't have cloth without both warp and weft. Which role is taken by which thread doesn't really matter. If you don't have both all you have is a pile of fluff. We live in an intellectual world, which supports the idea that emotion really is the warp. If you look at our world and assume that everything you see is the opposite of God's truth you'll be closer to being right than if you follow the popular concept. Emotion has always taken a back seat, leading to overemphasis in some areas (this is just as disastrous as underemphasis) and hyperintellectualism elsewhere. Making cloth is always a balance.

God is love. How is love expressed? Why does anyone bother? Intellect can't wrap itself around love. That scares me.

Larry, I'll come back and read this post later, for now I just stopped by to say I read the comment on Becky's blog and it spoke to me - in volumes.

(oh I can't log in here with my main blog, but if you'd like to visit, here is the link:
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