I’m guessing you remember, as I do, the old days when people (like me) edited things with red ink and those quaint old conventions known as proof-readers’ marks.
One that’s probably still familiar is this one – # – which we now refer to as hashtag. It used to mean space.
And a personal favorite of mine – the ^ – which used to mean insert [whatever] here.
I was less fond of the actual red ink, implying that something was wrong, rather than an inspiration for making it even better. (A concept my son’s first grade teacher never grasped, no matter how hard I tried!)
In fact, I actively avoided red for quite a while.
Then, I wandered into the land of Intentional Creativity® and a whole new relationship to the color red was born.
Today, I am hearth tending in The Red Thread Cafe, on work-in-progress Wednesday. I love hearth tending!
Sisters from all across the globe posting their own work. To get acquainted. To be witnessed. Sometimes to ask questions.
(Once, when I was very new at all this, I actually got brave enough to ask for advice on washing paintbrushes and was met with a gracious fountain of wisdom!)
I like hearth tending even better when I bring along my red thread. The actual/virtual/legendary connection between willing people across place and time and lives.
Often, red thread comes with questions… an inquiry, if you will. The one I shared this day was about what we’re noticing and wondering as we work on our works-in-progress… and they on us.
I started my own day with dots. Dots of prayer and intention. (Surprise!)
And, between virtual excursions to the Cafe, I watched, with much of the world, as countless people gathered to pay their respects to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her last journey in this world.
The first thing I noticed was overflowing tradition! All the talking heads attempting to explain the locations and uniforms and characters and ways we’ve always done it in the touching drama as it continues to unfold.
Then I realized that I was noticing as an outsider, surely, but also as an insider on many levels.
Outsider in that I’m not, as we say in the South, from around there.
Insider in that a great many of my genetic ancestors were, indeed, from around there. Names I know and names I don’t. (Names you would know, too!) And, better than the names, the stories!
Insider in that my first granddaughter was born in Scotland. (I was there!)
Insider in that I, too, have lost loved ones and planned funerals, trying to respect their wishes in a complicated, changing world.
Insider in that I, too, am a clergy person, counted upon to carry the traditions and the hope of faith in the midst of loss.
And, if you’ve known me more than about 10 minutes, you already know that I cried as I watched. And made finger knots in my ball of red thread as I began to see – through the CNN lenses and my OWN filters – new connections.
First, let’s recognize, together, that my filters are my own and I’ve been practicing editing them for a while. You, if you’ve been watching, no doubt saw different things and made different meanings. That’s the way it’s supposed to work!
Here’s just a smidge of what I saw…
I worried, during the processional through the streets of London, about the new King Charles and his knees. I saw orthopedic pain in his gait, along with emotional pain in his face. And I made some dots for him. And for all those who mourn.
I saw almost no face masks in the vast crowds and I made dots for the health of all the people. And the world.
And, when the choirs sang in Westminster Hall (which is emphatically not where the dog show happens) I saw a brown-skinned man with a head turban in the adult choir and Black and Asian boys among the children’s choir. And I made dots of hope for the world.
And, underneath the images, the news ticker ran on and told of Ukrainians taking back a large area of their country from invading Russians. And I made dots of peace for all people.
There was more… much more. The particular details don’t matter as much as the noticing and wondering, for that involves seeing more than we expected to see and being open to newness.
For this moment, a reminder of something you may have heard me say before…
Nothing that’s ever been written, in the whole history of the world, has been written without vested interest… and my words are no exception.
I will, however, own my vested interest…
I have two granddaughters growing up in this world!
I write these words which were, in some sense, given to me and which, in other senses, I’ve spent my life learning, in the hope that we might all notice and wonder. That we might see new things and be curious rather than terrified or hostile. That we might edit our filters with the red thread of our common humanity.
May Elizabeth II rest in peace. May the world grow in hope and love and peace, even as it changes, for it must. May you and yours be safe and well. And may abounding grace go with us all.
ps… the quilt at the top insisted on appearing today. It’s my Liberated Wild Geese quilt, named for the place where a traditional American block, known as Flying Geese, meets the Celtic tradition of Wild Geese as symbols of the Holy Spirit, pieced in the liberated style of the great Gwen Marston… which somehow makes huge sense for the Holy Spirit!
pps… I’ll be back soon with some more ideas about the whole filter thing. For now, let’s just say that if I had only one tool, it would be this one!
ppps… huge thanks to Shiloh Sophia McCloud and Jonathan McCloud for their courageous conversation, The Heart of Man, which is so deeply related to this conversation.