A Thread to Follow

by Ed Horstmann


Sometimes we lose our place in a conversation and have to admit that we have “lost the thread.” Sometimes we have a moment of awareness when we wonder if we have lost the thread of purpose that can give meaning to life.  These can be unsettling experiences. Yet they can also be used to bring a fresh orientation to what we do and who we are seeking to become.

In his poem, “The Way It Is,” William Stafford uses the image of a thread to describe the sense of purposeful direction that can give meaning to our words, actions, and decisions. “There’s a thread you follow,” he writes. “It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change.” Despite all the swirling flux of circumstances in our lives over the years, he provides this straightforward counsel: “Don’t ever let go of the thread.”

When Jesus called people to follow him, he invited them to pick up a thread of purpose and direction that would bring them into closer relationship to God, creation, and their fellow human beings. He called this thread “the kingdom of God.” Unlike earthly kingdoms with borders and rulers, this world of God’s realm was more like a movement; something to be followed, enjoyed, shared, and held onto beyond the forces of fear and hatred that can diminish fullness of being. Jesus made the process of following this thread the core purpose of human life. “Seek first the kingdom of God, and God’s righteousness” may well have constituted his first sermon. And perhaps this is the message that lies at the depths of every story he told and every word of instruction he imparted to others.

I’m using these early days of a new year to consider the thread of a Jesus way of life running through my own. I want to discover how I can be more deeply committed to a path that aligns with the mercy, truth, and passion for life that I see in Jesus of Nazareth. That’s a thread worth following through all of our days and beyond.

For further reflection:
William Stafford’s poem “The Way It Is” with a reflection by Parker Palmer

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