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.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
— The Way It Is, William Stafford (1914-1993)
I guess we probably all have our own interpretation of what the thread referred to in this poem is. Some might say it’s faith; others might assume it’s God, or love, or truth. And perhaps it’s something of all of these.
To me, the thread in this poem speaks of finding our true selves – by which I do not mean our best selves, the shiny, happy people we so desperately want others to think we are. I think it’s something about digging down, stripping away the masks, the pretence, the lies we tell ourselves and others, and finding the deep truth of ourselves, who we really are. In that deep place, if we dare to dig far enough down through the pain and the fear, we find both the innocent child, free to play, to dance and to love, and the imprint of the eternal God, who is Himself perfect love. That’s a thread worth finding and holding onto.