Imagine peering through a magnifying glass at a small object, say a leaf or a flower. The impulse of the human condition when given such a powerful tool is to look closely, ever more closely at this item of beauty. What are its fragments? How do its parts work? It is a heady thing, to have the perceived ability to understand the inner workings of something that looks from afar to be magical.
But upon further study, the simple thing – the leaf or flower – loses some of its magic. It no longer has the mystical whole with which to redeem itself. What you see are details, small and disparate, often confusing details. The details may intrigue or repulse you, fascinate or disgust you; it all depends on where you are looking.
The result of such magnification is that you can only see one part of the leaf, of the flower. No longer do you see the magic of the whole, but rather an incomplete network of parts. The frame of your lens blocks out the beauty, the fragility, the singularity. The closer you get, the less you actually understand.
You were desperate to see its inner workings, and yet now all the interest has gone out of it and you say to yourself, “What is this leaf but a collection of dried up veins? What is this flower but a broken and withering stamen?”
Of course it is the same when we look at humans. We have the ability today to share pieces and parts of ourselves with a wide group of people. The way we dress, the company we keep, the causes we champion, these things focus the lens upon a certain aspect of our nature. Posting something on Facebook is like handing someone a magnifying glass and saying, “Look here at this important part of me. What do you make of it?” Sometimes what you share is humorous, sometimes a deeply held value or belief. But all of it is only a piece of you, a thread. A thread which, when put together with all your other wonderful and not-so-wonderful parts (whether they are shared or kept private) weaves a tapestry of you. A strikingly colorful, remarkably unique, irreplaceable you.
We are not the sum total of our posts on Facebook, of our wardrobes, of hours worked, of paychecks deposited, of meals cooked, of diapers changed, of blogs posted. We are more. We are flowers unfolding, tapestries on the loom, halfway woven. Someone could (and at some point most likely will) pluck out a thread and say, “LOOK! Look how ugly this piece is. It’s tattered and weak, unsightly and worn. You aren’t a tapestry, you’re a rug destined for the trash heap.” But this is a lie. God our Creator tells us it isn’t true; He is still weaving and has only the choicest silks to offer.
When I began writing this piece, I wasn’t thinking of myself. Or actually, even about you. This is about the person, the other, that in our myopic vision, we so easily dismiss. I’ve taken up the practice lately of looking upon friends and strangers (especially those with whom I have very little in common) and saying to myself.
“He is a tapestry woven by the hands of the Divine Weaver. He is irreplaceable. God, you love him with a ferocity I can only imagine. Lord, let me ignore the threads and see only the tapestry.”
It is a simple thing, but a powerful one. It reminds me in the moment to lay down the magnifying glass, to step back from the loom. It is an invitation to open my eyes and see the glory of creation rather than the minutiae. I extend to you the same invitation.
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. Gen 1:31