Closing my eyes, I could feel the smooth glide of the brightly colored piece of fabric running through the folds of my fingerprints, the nearly imperceptible bumps of the woven strings passing through my hands.
Words are like threads, wispy connectors between people. Some threads are coarse, rough, almost abrasive; some are smooth and flow like strands of silk through our minds. When we write or talk, we weave these words together, we create stories and communication and strengthen the connection between individuals, groups, and nations.
From these woven pieces, we find comfort, like an old pair of blue jeans and the softest oldest tee shirt in our closets. We find dignity, when the words are woven and sewn into a business suit or dress. We find solace, wrapped in the quilt of many small pieces patched together, wrapping us in the care that put those pieces into one warm and engaging blanket.
Many fabrics exist: those we feel like dancing in, those we feel like lying prostrate on the ground, those for wrapping around us when we are happy, those we bury ourselves in when we are sad and anywhere in between.
On a daily basis, we work on our loom with every interaction we have with the people in our lives.
One evening, my daughters were playing in the living room on the hardwood floors. Elin, my oldest, jerked a pool noodle out of my youngest daughter Emery’s hands. This caused Emery to drop to the floor, nailing its rigidity to her tailbone. Tears flowed immediately.
I cast a disappointed look at Elin. “You need to be more careful,” the rough fibers of burlap spun out of my mouth.
The fibers grated on her soul. Tears welled in Elin’s eyes.
“I keep telling you two to quit roughhousing! Look what has happened!” wrapped the burlap, now rough around her heart. With her tears, the harsh fabric now crept toward me. I could feel its severity, now burning against both of us. I could feel the effect it had through my own heart.
With that, I chose to clothe us better.
I followed her to the next room, and drew her next to me. I softly spliced new threads—softer, kinder threads. The kind of threads we would want to live in.
“I love you both very much. The reason I get upset is that I don’t want to see either of you hurt,” brushed the soft cottony counsel. The velvety texture draping us both made her small form relax. I held her closer, wrapping us in the comfort of the warm layer.
The rest of the evening was pleasant and we worked together to make Emery feel better from the unintentional mishap.
We can choose what thread we weave with; we have power over our actions and words.
Here are some ways we can activate our power:
If we feel anger or other negative emotions before our words come out, we can take a deep breath and step away if we have to. If we have the chance to separate before engaging in the conversation, sometimes we can take a little harshness out of the threads of our response.
Pause—so you can choose which spool you’re pulling from. If we take a second and allow ourselves to look at all of the choices, we might pick a gentler thread with which to weave.
Try to see what fabric the other person is coming from: understanding (seeing the fabric) where our counterparts are coming from helps us better match what we need to wrap them—whether they’re kind words, words of education, or some other sort.
When I was talking with my kids, better communication and understanding came from the softer fabric I provided; they experienced more resistance and closed minds when the harsher material flowed.
When we weave our words, let us remember that harsh fibers repel us. Kinder threads—more giving and flexible threads—can bring us together. Let us choose the kinder thread in both our spoken and written words.
Perhaps if we do, we can become a more understanding and cooperative world, one we would love to wrap ourselves in!