Nearly three months ago, on the evening of the last day of a tapestry weaving workshop, I landed in the ER at Baptist Hospital and didn’t come out until three weeks later. Much like Alice in the story we all know, it felt like I dropped down a rabbit hole into a strange, albeit familiar, world of beeps and alarms, uniforms and white coats, pain and medications. Another hole opened up in my small intestine just a few days after extensive surgery to repair a closed loop bowel obstruction caused by adhesions from previous surgeries. The fistula (the medical term for this hole), though it has healed much, still has a ways to go. And if it does not heal completely, surgery (again) will be needed to fix it. This is a long, slow, tedious, and sometimes uncomfortable process.
The evening prior to slipping down the rabbit hole, I began a small tapestry to try to work on some of the concepts I was learning from Tommye Scanlin in her workshop on Design in Tapestry. I was so fortunate to be able to attend this workshop and learn from one of the masters in Tapestry Weaving today. I chose to begin an abstract piece based on paint explorations we had created in the workshop. Cropping and rotating what we have drawn or painted can offer interesting subjects to weave. I plunged in…warping the small loom with cotton seine twine, weaving a header, working a couple of rows of twining and establishing the first few rows/colors of the design. That was all I could do in an evening on the couch.
A couple of weeks after arriving home from the hospital, I picked up the little loom and tried my best to wrap my head around what I had been doing. I just couldn’t. Whether it was the fog of medications or the weariness of my body and mind, I just wasn’t able to hold in my head or in my hands what I needed to do to weave. I set the loom back in its protective bag with all the yarns for the project, and picked up my knitting which was simple enough to do. But I remember thinking that this geometric abstract design was not what I wanted to weave. There would need to be flowers…organic flowing shapes of design-heavy florals. Yes. This was certain. Some day.
About a week ago, I pulled out the loom to give it another go. I was feeling stronger and hoped that I might be in a place to tackle the small tapestry. I looked at what little bit I had woven and saw the beginnings of stems reaching up to flower heads, pink petals and green leaves growing from the square and rectangular beginnings. A small portion was unpicked as I knew the color would not be needed for this new design, and a cartoon was drawn incorporating the established shapes and colors. A total re-routing of an original plan. I liked it a lot and had the mental and physical ability to begin working on it.
It occurs to me that the healing I am undergoing is much like this tapestry and tapestry weaving in general. This health crisis has certainly been a total re-routing of an original plan. Healing from it is slow, very slow and tedious and even (when I sit at the loom for too long) uncomfortable. As I weave a small tapestry, the work is not linear as weaving cloth is. Tapestry rarely allows for a yarn to be woven straight across the warp, back and forth, back and forth. Rather shapes are being woven, section by section. Negative spaces between the shapes must be filled in before shapes are completed or new shapes begun. It is a like a puzzle…working a bit here, then over there, then back again to fill in and finish that area. Healing feels like this also. Especially with a fistula.
The surgeons speak of a fistula that is healing by saying that it “stutters”. It will seem like the fistula has healed for good and then it starts to leak again, and back and forth for a while. They say this is a good sign. My fistula has been stuttering a lot. The back and forth nature of tapestry, the leaving a leaf undone while I weave a stem, all of this seems a bit like stuttering my way through a design. It is a very different process from any of the other mediums I’ve dabbled in. And while I know that my design will be complete one day, the process of creating it is nevertheless full of fits and starts and sometimes unpicking.
I am trying to rest in the process of healing that my body is still undergoing. Nightly nutritional tube feeds and protein feeds during the day are all designed to aid the fistula in its healing. I must stay the course even though I can’t really tell whether there has been improvement lately. This too is like tapestry where at the end of a session of weaving it doesn’t look like I’ve accomplished much. I must trust the process, keep doing the daily work, in hopes that it will all resolve in due time.🙏
**Special Note: Many of you reading this have been sending healing thoughts and prayers my way and I am so very grateful for them all! This is a “marathon” unlike any I’ve experienced before and I’m so glad for comrades along the path. 💖
25 thoughts on “Alice in Weaverland”
I will put you on our prayer team for healing.
God bless. You are not alone. Many people experience long roads to healing. I went through a different process just 10 years ago —- it was long and difficult, but I am better in many ways. Expressing yourself artistically is a skill I don’t have. What a blessing! Just remember…difficult doesn’t mean impossible. You are on the healing side…
Thank you Carolyn for your kind words! I do appreciate your prayers! -Jennifer
Jennifer, I have missed your posts and had no idea why you were not posting. So sorry for all you have been through and pray you will be feeling and getting better every day. I love that you are inspired by the things that are happening in your life
Hi Patsy! So good to hear from you and thank you for your well wishes! I hope you are knitting a bunch these days! Love, Jennifer
My heart hurts to think of what you’ve been through and continue to go through in this long and slow and stuttering healing but my heart is also blessed and encouraged to read your perspectives on life, faith and creativity and see your efforts and small successes with your weaving projects.
I continue to think of and pray for you, confident that God will continue to provide the grace and strength to weave your way through this trial and you will be aware of His presence with you all the way, every day.
Hi Cheryl! I so appreciate your prayers! I love seeing that you continue to sketch and draw lovely things! Have a beautiful day! -Jennifer
Jennifer, as I read your post and pray for your healing, it seems that weaving a tapestry like many other parts of life is a philosophical process.
Hi Sandy! For as long as I can remember, the process of creating anything has spoken to me of life and working through difficulty to a desired end. Perhaps it is the chief reason I am a maker…to see more clearly the life God has given me and to move through its varied paths with His grace and light. I hope you are doing well these days! Love, Jennifer
I am so sorry you have been going through all of this period I’m glad though that you are finding beauty in the midst of it all but all. Praying for you are healing.
Hi Amy! I appreciate your thoughts and prayers! I’m excited to begin reading through the Bible as per your system. It is brilliant! Thank you for the copies we received a day or so ago! Love, Jennifer
This piece is lovely—the organic design, the colours—thank you for explaining the process of both your healing and your weaving.
You are welcome Karen, and I appreciate your kind words! I hope you have a most lovely day! -Jennifer
Only you could make such a beautiful tapestry out of your surgery and healing! Your creativity shines through, and I (like you!) am looking forward to the finished product – you AND the tapestry! Please know that you are surrounded by love and supported in your journey – your creativity and talent are inspiring us all!
oh Thank you Mary Ellis! You are a dear to be so encouraging to me! I miss seeing your regularly but am hopeful that will not be much longer! Have a super day! Keep knitting!
Jennifer I join all those who Love you with prayers for Healing Light to embrace you every moment of every day
Hi Phyllis! I do believe that Healing Light has surrounded me each day, thanks to the prayers of many! Thank you! I hope you are continuing in your love of playing the harp! Light and Love to you today Phyllis! Love,Jennifer
So glad to see you weaving again. The flowers are wonderful and just YOU. Slow and steady is a good thing. “All this shall pass”…. looking back, whenever that will be, you will know just how far you’ve come and accomplished.
Thank you Nancy! It was great to see you this morning! I hope the writing is going great!
As a fellow traveler on the healing journey I resonate with your tapestry reflections. The Healing process leaves us more beautiful than before, just like your flower redesign! It adds texture, strength and perspective, just like art. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”. Google it in all translations. You are His masterpiece! This fall marks 5 years since living on Emmaus Road, the entire time a physical and spiritual “weaving” in progress! Thank you for sharing your story with us, it lifts me. Robin Davis
Hi Robin! I thank you for these kind words. I did not know you were healing during your days on Emmaus Rd. I hope that you are now well and thriving in many ways. May our Father bless you richly! Love, Jennifer
Sigh. This sounds like healing that could feel very tedious. I love how you have reframed your thinking about it in relationship to the special art that you love to create – and that you are improved enough to enjoy weaving the beautiful textures of it once again. Sending lots of prayers for continued positive forward momentum. I’m so glad you are surrounded by so many who care for you so much! ❤️
Thank you so much Gretchen! I so appreciate your thoughts and prayers! I do hope all is well with you and your family! -Jennifer
The way that you weave you healing together with the tapestry of life through your art is a gift and an inspiration to us all.
I miss you and love you deeply.
I miss you too Cathy! Writing a blog post may make it sound easy, when in reality it is often painful in its slowness and tedium and wondering if there will be a desired end or not. As you are often saying…staying in present moment is the only way through. Much love to you!!
My prayer partner and I remembered you on Friday. We were praying Colossians 2:2 “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love . . .” The Message Bible says it eloquently, “I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery! All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. Precious promise!