CLEW: a ball of yarn

I mentioned in a previous posting that I am reading The Lake of Dreams, the new novel by my friend, Kim Edwards.  Her novel is laced with very powerful theological  references, reflecting Kim’s own spiritual journey, I suspect.

At one point she references the labyrinth, a spiritual exercise of ancient Greece, but dating back numerous centuries in Christian practice, in which a maze-like construction on the ground is used as a path for contemplation.  One walks  through the labyrinth slowly, often reciting prayers or psalms, or just letting one’s mind free to wander as well.  At the center is a place of rest, where one prepares for the “journey out,” back to one’s place of current life.

In the novel the main character thinks about the ancient tale of Perseus who carries a clew, a ball of twine, which he unwinds as he moves through a journey so he can find his way back without being lost.  Lucy Jarrett, the character in the novel, thinks about the clews which appear in her life which, like clues, lead her to new knowledge and understanding of her life journey.  In reality, the word clew is the same as its modern spelling, clue.

It’s hard to see the clews in your life journey if you are running, constantly making turns and twists at a speed where there is no time for contemplation.  The modern American life is like that.   Even when those moments arrive where there is nothing “on the schedule” we reach for the cell phone to check our e-mails or Facebook.  (I can say “we” easily, as I am becoming one of those who sits for a moment and then reaches into my pocket for my phone.  Even in a restaurant!!) In The Lake of Dreams Lucy is handed a “sabbatical” time away from a job, her busy life, and even her lover, to celebrate hours and even days of time to recognize the clews in her life.   They reveal a story which she could never have imagined which brings a new cause of celebration.  My temptation is to reveal the story-line, but I’ll leave that for you to discover should you decide to pick up the book.

I’m not the first person to write about the lament of the American lifestyle which encourages multi-tasking, constant activity, and the over-riding of free moments.   This isn’t even the first time I’ve written about it.  It is a disease, and the symptoms are not hard to spot.  My recent medical issues have forced me to embrace those moments when clews come crashing in on me, like spotlights flashing on in the darkness of the night.  My journey has been convoluted and erratic, filled with false starts, confusing directions, and patterns which are more like paisleys than stripes.  I have celebrated the confusion, claiming it as a signature.  The results, however, have been pain, discomfort, and sad conclusions.

I am searching for a new style of life, in which the “unscheduled” times are seen as gifts, and there is an opportunity for the clews to reveal themselves.  My ball of yarn is smaller than it was in my youth, but the yarn at the inside is purer, not having been exposed to the elements.  Some of my contemporaries lament their age, but I’m finding this to be a new, refreshing era…when I let it happen.  There is so much to learn, to experience, to drink in.  The “golden years” are not all that shiny, and there are nicks and bruises to attest to that.  But there are qualities that didn’t exist in my younger years, especially the gift of time to let the clew reveal a story I have never read about myself and my life.

Wow, this became pretty heavy!  Not exactly where I meant to go.  But, then again, that’s the point.

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