In the Weaving: Motherhood, Friendship, and Purpose

Today we’re truly fortunate over on the Friends of Little Portion Hermitage (FLPH) site to have a guest post from Catholic author and EWTN television host Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.  For those of you who don’t know, FLPH is trying to raise funds to provide a permanent Franciscan hermitage for Brother Rex Anthony Norris, whose story you may have seen on EWTN’s “The Journey Home” program.  Donna has very graciously donated a wonderful post on motherhood and the power of prayer, in aid of the cause.

I’m also pleased to report that tomorrow morning, Brother Rex will be on The Son Rise Morning Show with one of my favorite people, fellow secret superhero, Matt Swaim.  Tune in around 7:45 am Eastern tomorrow on your local EWTN radio station, or you can listen live online on the Son Rise Morning Show site. We’re very grateful to Matt and everyone at the show for having Brother Rex on to talk about his life as a hermit.

There’s an added note of urgency here, as I mentioned last week, in asking for your support. Brother Rex faces a significant danger that the rented home he is living in will be sold out from under him within the coming weeks.  This may leave him nowhere to go, since a back-up accommodation he hoped might be possible in a local rectory has fallen through.  So please prayerfully consider a donation, and forward the FLPH site address on to anyone you think may be able to help.

In her piece today, Donna talks about the “tapestry of motherhood,” which is a very evocative image.  She tells us how there are times “when a Christian mother might be required to trust in our Lord’s mercy and His promises,” giving as an example the story of St. Monica.  As you may know, St. Monica had to pray constantly for over 20 years, to see the conversion of her son St. Augustine from his pagan way of life, but he finally made it. This got me thinking and, riffing a bit off of Donna’s post, I’d like to argue that there are some other tapestries which we can weave together during our lifetimes, even for those of us who are not parents.

There’s a “tapestry of friendship” for example, with the people we deeply care about outside of our families.  We don’t weave a complex tapestry in every friendship of course.  Some of our friends are simply people we like spending time with because they’re amusing, or smart, or enjoy similar activities, which is why they enjoy spending time with us, as well.  The forming of such relationships is more like knitting coasters than weaving tapestries: they’re small, circular relationships, easy to put down or pick up again.

With deep friendships, there is a lifelong weaving together of thoughts, experiences, and emotions, more complex than just knitting in a circle.  In the weaving there can be all kinds of bumps and snags that go into the process; you can’t create such a relationship without them.  Yet the end product is something very beautiful indeed, particularly because it was voluntarily taken up by those who chose to weave it together, and chose not to walk away from the task, even when it became difficult.

It’s the same with finding your purpose in life, as Brother Rex is doing in his life as a hermit, and indeed as many of us are trying to do in our own lives.  Discerning where you ought to be, and how you ought to be making use of the talents and abilities you have, is something that challenges us from the moment we take up the threads for ourselves, and start weaving our life story together.  Some of us will have more complex tapestries than others, but all are called to at least make the attempt.

For those of us called to do something a bit more difficult – like being a hermit, something which personally I think I could stand doing for about a weekend at most, before longing for a return to my Egyptian fleshpots – we need to have some level of support to be able to finish that tapestry we’re weaving.  Just as the mother and child, and the friends, have each other to lend a hand in weaving together their lives, so do those who are taking a tough road in their vocations need a hand to make their life’s purpose possible, even if that purpose means they are often called to be cut off from the things that those of us in the normal world of work and family take for granted.

I hope you’ll consider joining us, in offering that hand to Brother Rex, to make his life’s purpose possible.

Illustration of a Medieval Swedish Weaver's Shop From "A Description of the Northern Peoples" by Olaus Magnus (1555)

Illustration of a Medieval Swedish Weaver’s Shop
From “A Description of the Northern Peoples” by Olaus Magnus (1555)

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