The Bolt of Many Colors… And the Tapestry of Our Lives

As I read what Ed Welch wrote about the complicated issues encompassed in our increasingly depressed society, he nailed one that sunk deep into my heart:

“Other stories are always looking for ways to humanize God and deify us, but God’s story exalts Him and brings appropriate humility to us as His creatures. All wisdom starts here. If you miss it, you are on the wrong path and without hope.” (Depression: A Stubborn Darkness)

The Bolt of Many Colors…
In the Fall of 1983, a solo bike ride around the coastline of Scotland was one of the highlight experiences of my life. As I excitedly jumped on my bike in London heading towards Edinburgh and beyond, I had a few “must see” places that I couldn’t wait to visit.

One such place was the Harris Tweed factory on the Isle of Harris—in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. This stop on the nearly four-week tour wouldn’t come for many kilometers. But I couldn’t wait: What I knew in the realms of “The Story of Timeless Tweeds” would come true for me on the most intimate level yet!

I grew up inheriting and wearing some of the most wonderful Harris Tweeds ever. My grandfather and father had them made when they were young and natty chaps.

An Old Yarn…
When I arrived at the Harris Tweed Factory, I was greeted by the Floor Manager who gave me a tour amongst a died-and-gone-to-tweed-heaven array of newly fashioned bolts of wool—ready to tailor into fine coats that would last the wearer many lifetimes.

A unique story was woven into every tweed because the warp (the threads that run lengthwise) were woven at the Harris factory and the woof (the threads that run crosswise) were woven in the many cottages that dot the windswept and rocky hewn Hebrides.

Each bolt of multicolored cloth was as “traditional yet unique” as the weavers who invested their lives and hearts into the craft since the mid-1800’s. No bolt of Harris Tweed was ever the same—and yet “the tapestry of the Harris name” wrapped every contributor in the larger context of the craft. Any bolt, devoid of the story and the process, would not be worthy of its ancestry or august namesake.

By 1983, there was only one cottage contributor left in the tiny hamlet of Procapool. I adventured on my bike to visit the very last of a kind and to meet the cottage weaver (a wonderful lady) who lived in the most humble yet noble manner imaginable.

…Come to Life!
After a cup of tea—and the sort of chat that I could have simmered in for a very long time—I was invited to go for a stroll to the side of a lake down the hill from her home. There, hanging on the clothesline drying, was a bolt of many colors just finished the day before.

Before I knew it, I was back on my bike with a rather large and carefully wrapped bundle strapped on the rear panniers.

I could not have been more full of joy and proud of my cargo: “A bolt of many colors” woven of the grey and black Harris factory yarns combined with the yarn artfully dyed from green algae, yellow daisies, and an orange-rust lichen of the Procapool climes.

No bolt of tweed could match the uniqueness, artistry, and rough-hewn character of this “Procapool tapestry”!

The Tapestry of Our Lives… consists of The Story of God and every human being’s unique threads of their life within it.

But ever since The Fall (Genesis 3)—and the subsequent secularization of any culture or people—things have gone terribly awry: As the opening quote by Ed Welch so eloquently yet starkly reminds us, “All wisdom starts here. If you miss it, you are on the wrong path and without hope.”

As I offer this proposition, I pray that the gravity and potential benefits of the claim will impact many people and stories!

PLEASE CONSIDER: The reason that this quote is part of the tapestry of the book, Depression: A Stubborn Darkness, is that any human being who does not see his or her every day life as a thread woven into God’s grander story of Creation. The Fall. Redemption. And Consummation. will live a life devoid of the God-Context and Grandest Story—which is not how humans beings were made to be, and then to do life.

For humankind—the quintessential creative act of God—CONTEXT is key.

Never having known and embraced the all-important context as a human,
a) BEING an Image Bearer of God originally created as “good, very good” (Genesis 1, 2);

as b) BEING inheritors of The Fall and sinful by nature and by habit (Genesis 3; 6:5; Romans 7);

as c) BEING redeemed, justified by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross by way of repentance and faith in Him as Savior and Lord (Mark 1:14-15; Romans 10:13; 8; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 1:7);

as d) BEING hopeful and joyfully obedient in the assurance of the consummation when Jesus will return to make all things new (2 Corinthians 5:1-10; James 1:12; Revelations 21)…

That human BEING … and DOING… will be depressed (anxious in yesterday, worried for tomorrow, no room for living today), in varying degrees. This need not be the case.

[An Aside… Sort of: All due respect and acceptance of the very complicated nature of human beings, I’m sure lots of us have wondered why the use of anti-depressants have risen a hundred-fold in the last twenty-five years. Could it have any bearing on “deleting God’s Story” from most of the content in our culture as possible?]

All depression has as its basis a spiritual connection:
God’s Story, infinitely yet intimately scripted to include our story, infuses happiness and trust into our lives. “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but gloom and discontent rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30)

A guilty conscience is all-consuming; being right with God creates a humbly confident heart the world will never understand.  “The godless flee though no one pursues them; but the righteous are as confident and bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).

God’s Dream, as our own dream, colors the worst trials and the best triumphs with hope and a love for life. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12)

My Bolt of Many Colors… was eventually made into a fine Harris Tweed jacket. I wore it with immense joy, in the context of its Story, and how my story was woven into it it… before the sounds of bleating sheep echoed in The Hebrides!

Please bless your story by carefully, meditatively and within a small and trusted community of faith… print out and review The Story of God as rendered by artist David Arms and author Pastor Scotty Smith.

Our story—every warp, every woof, every breath we take, every heartbeat in time immemorial, the present time, and for eternity—is known by God and included His Story. However, each of us must have faith to trust that this True, and then be true to making the effort to “discovering and delighting in the threads of our life” as depicted in The Tapestry of God!

“Living out of context” is hell on earth… and depressing. God offers another Way, Truth, and Life.

In the hope of celebrating our story for God’s glory,

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