The Thread of Light

The Way It Is

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.
–William Stafford

One of my Lorian colleagues introduced me to this poem earlier this year. For him it serves as a reminder that his life has a unique and specific purpose; and holding on to that “thread” allows him to express and explore that inner mission while also living in the here and now.

Though I appreciate the “thread” motif above, for me life feels more like a pilgrimage. As I consider the imagery that tethers me to my own life design, most of the time it’s the tree of life or a winding pathway through the wilderness. Sometimes I sense a flowing magical river….

But while working with yesterday’s exercise, another image emerged. A little while ago another friend introduced me to a song by Cliff Eberhardt (with Richie Havens): “The Long Road.” (It’s an oldie, though brand new to me.)

There are the ones you call friends 
There are the ones you call late at night 
There are the ones who sweep away your past 
With one wave of the hand 
There are the ones you call family 
There are the ones you hold close to your heart 
There are the ones who see danger in you 
And won't understand 

I can hear your voice in the wind 
Are you calling to me? Down the long road
Do you really think that there's an end 
I have followed my dreams, down the long road 

You are the one that I met long ago 
You are the one who saw my dream 
You are the one who took me from my home 
And left me off somewhere 
Somehow I feel you are here 
You are waiting in that dream 
Somewhere down this road we will awake 
And be at the start again 

I can hear your voice in the wind 
Are you calling to me? Down the long road
Do you really think that there's an end? 
I have lived my whole life, down the long road 
I've got to find you tonight 
Are you waiting for me? 
I have followed my dream 
I have lived my whole life 
Are you waiting for me? 

I can hear your voice in the wind 
Are you calling to me? Down the long road 
Do you really think that there's an end 
I have followed my dream, down the long road 

I can hear your voice in the wind 
Are you calling to me? Down the long road 
Do you really think that there's an end 
I will live my whole life, down the long road

I can hear your voice in the wind 
Are you calling to me? Down the long road
Do you really think that there's an end 
I have followed my dreams, down the long road

Music is often a portal for me. And this particular song took me down the road of my own life while offering me a glimpse of that inner light traveling within me all along.

Especially right now “the long road” feels especially poignant. There are times when the life journey gets complicated. As William says, “People wonder about what you are pursuing/You have to explain about the thread/ But it is hard for others to see.” And as Cliff sings, ” There are the ones who see danger in you and won’t understand…I have followed my dream down the long road.”

In some ways the thread and the dream are the same theme. Some believe that self-light summons the dream and tethers the thread to our souls. Self light as expression of purpose.

I tend to think of self light as comparable with Star-glass, the Phial of Light that Galadriel (from Lord of the Rings) gifted to Frodo, saying, “May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”

Sometimes the road of life feels dark and painful. It’s comforting to realize that an inner light journeys within us, reminding us not only of our origins and our purpose, but also our potentiality.

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