The Threads That Connect Us

06/25/2015 02:02pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017

I'm a thread-follower.

I like to think about threads. Creatively, they signify so much to me: knitting, weaving, sewing. I love the feel of threads and strings and I love using my hands to work with strands of color.


In my best moments, I follow threads. Sometimes when I'm sitting for meditation, I feel like I'm following the thread of a plume of incense smoke. When I lose direction in a town that's not yet familiar, it seems more like the breeze that carries the thread.

Yesterday, while I was connecting with a friend online, I felt a blush of warmth and a pull at my sternum, like a thread gently tugged. Yet another one of those quiet, easily passed over moments that Rumi spoke of when he wrote:


These sensations communicate a kind of knowing to me, but that may have been the first time I saw that communication as a form of love itself. This thread is the closest I can come to describing the feeling of intuition. Quiet, deep, strong... but somehow also easily torn by words, thoughts, expectations.

I have never been shy to use words. My parents recount stories of meetings with elementary school teachers: "Susan is very bright, but she talks too much." Anyone who has known me for any length of time will not be surprised by that statement. I love words and I labor over them, choosing carefully the ones I use.

but in silence
the secret

When I relax enough to take the time to be in silence, that thread is never very elusive. It waits there, just below the surface, patiently waiting for me to call it.

There are so many different forms of silence. Meditation is one, but simple rest is, too. Taking the time to unplug, unjudge and undo makes space for that thread to be rediscovered and reconnected. Sometimes I lose that thread for days (or even weeks) at a time. In those cases, it can take some time to reinforce the thread before it comes so quickly at my call. At other times, like in conversation with my friend, the thread tugs at me to remind me to pay attention to something not conveyed on the inter-webs. (But, then the moment might have been only made possible with the assistance of the web and its own threads.)

I wrote a week or so ago a piece about "deepening the love groove." I shared an image I encountered in hospice work of a human being as a record with the history of one's experiences etched as grooves on the surface. How making choices more in line with the "love groove" feels like a choice to move toward more freedom. These threads are the visceral, human indicators of the direction in which more love lies.

Love is a small word. It's over-used, and, frankly, who the heck knows what it means anymore? Sometimes the word itself can be used as the one which "tear[s] the thread." But when I use it, it is only because it is the best approximation I can muster for a feeling of warm, spreading relaxation and expansion.

Sometimes I like to think about the way we use words in terms of cooking. When cooking, I try to sense how to prepare my ingredients in the way which will be most comfortably (and pleasurably) digested. With my words, I aim to do the same. (With varying degrees of success; I still sometimes overfeed my guests or add a bit too much spice to a dish.)

Just as with dinner, I work to make my words more simple, straightforward, without too many ingredients and made with love. A surprising amount can be communicated in fewer words.

And the rest? Maybe it's not really communicate-able, at least in words.


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