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A Thread to Guide Us

Here’s a William Stafford poem about the “thread” that runs through our lives — a thread that can guide us if we hold onto it:

The Way It Is
by William Stafford

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.

(Excerpted from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. Read the full poem here.)

Holding on doesn’t make life any easier, but it can keep us from getting lost in the dark woods that swallow us up every now and then. Knowing we can find our way home with that thread in hand, we’re more likely to explore the darkness and learn what it has to teach us.

From time to time, I lose track of the thread of my life. I lose it when I succumb to my own fears, or to other people’s expectations, or to the non-stop circus of distractions we call the modern world. So I need to take time to ponder a few questions, which is what I’ve been doing this week:

» As I look back on my life, what’s the thread that has given me a sense of meaning and purpose? How can I name or picture it in a way that will keep me more aware of it?
» Once I’ve reclaimed my lost thread and have it firmly in hand, what darkness do I need to enter and explore? For example, what fears do I need to face into and walk through to keep them from shutting me down?
» In what kinds of situations do I most often let go of the thread? How can I avoid those situations, or go into them better prepared to deal with their risks?

If you find these questions helpful, I’ll be glad. If you have thoughts or questions to share about holding onto the thread that guides your life, I’ll be glad for that, too.

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