Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~the web of years

In silence, understanding, the tapestry of my life

In my quest, I begin to understand how the woof of many  silences is woven through the warp of my life. The  unfolding pattern surprises me, delights me, comforts me, saddens me, enriches me.


In the light of the silent stars that shine on the struggling sea, 
In the weary cry of the wind and the whisper of flower and tree, 
Under the breath of laughter, deep in the tide of tears, 
I hear the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years. 

from the The Loom of Years by Alfred Noyes (1902)

ps The image features a selection of gifts received over many years. The wooden sculptures come from Malawi.  They were given to me over 30 years ago and have travelled to many countries with me.  Faithful friends, I call them Thomas and Sarah.


48 thoughts on “Silence ~ an Advent Quest ~the web of years

  1. Tiny

    I really like your image! So beautiful and peaceful. I have my collection of wooden friends too. A couple from Zambia has followed around the world with us for 32 years and my large warrior from Kenya has been guarding my home now for 25 years 🙂 In complete silence.

      1. michelinewalker

        I was alone at home, but it was a good Christmas Day. I lost my voice on December 11, and I’m waiting for it to return. It was bronchitis. Wishing you the very best, Amanda. Love 💛

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Julie. It was lovely to have an excuse to showcase my faithful ‘friends’. Hope the next fews days are bright and cheerful and filled with good company.

  2. shoreacres

    As it happens, I have two pieces of Ethiopian embroidery framed and hanging on my wall: gifts during my own African time from a member of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus. The thought of Lutherans in Ethiopia still can sound a bit odd to me, but so it is. When a friend asked where I’d like to go for a birthday dinner this year, I named the best Ethiopian restaurant in Houston. After being introduced to the food in New York many years ago, it’s become one of my favorite cuisines.

    I like the phrase “the woof of many silences,” although it reminds me that silence can be marked by radical absence as well as presence. The experience at Stonehenge was all presence, but another Christmas experience provided an experience of utter silence and complete absence. As you might surmise, it wasn’t a pleasant experience, and it remains painful in memory. Still, William Blake once put your own point in his words:

    Joy and woe are woven fine,
    A clothing for the soul divine,
    Under every grief and pine,
    Runs a joy with silken twine.
    It is right it should be so,
    We were made for joy and woe,
    And when this we rightly know,
    Through the world we safely go.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am envious of your meal at the best Ethiopian restaurant in Houston. And I am pleased to know you own some lovely pieces of Ethiopian embroidery. As for Blake’s words, they have given me great succour for some years now, although how safely I am going may be debatable.

  3. KerryCan

    Noyes again! How funny that the old Highwayman chestnut is the one that got well known when some of these others are so much ore interesting. And I suppose you’d expect me to like the weaving metaphor! It’s such a useful device for thinking about the threads of our lives. . .

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh, yes, I was counting on you to like the weaving metaphor. 🙂 I thought of you the first time I read this poem. The first time being just a few weeks ago!

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Jo. Yes, there is an African connection but I hadn’t realized until this post just how much I neglect the wonder and beauty of it. We lived in Zambia and Botswana for a time and my husband is Ethiopian.

  4. Tiny

    I have my sculptures as well, well traveled by now. And they have become one with our journey. Wonderful post, dear friend. I wish you & yours a blessed Christmas season 💝

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      And the same to you, Tiny. With our current sensitivity to environmental concerns, I feel some guilt about these wooden sculptures. But what’s done, is done, and all I can do now is to continue to treasure them.

  5. Steve Schwartzman

    Beyond “The Highwayman” I knew practically nothing about Noyes. In your linked article, this caught my eye: “The story of scientific discovery has its own epic unity – a unity of purpose and endeavour – the single torch passing from hand to hand through the centuries; and the great moments of science when, after long labour, the pioneers saw their accumulated facts falling into a significant order – sometimes in the form of a law that revolutionised the whole world of thought – have an intense human interest, and belong essentially to the creative imagination of poetry.”

    And now I’m reminded of a jibe made by the professor of the one astronomy course I took in college. He noted that while astronomy majors might read the Roman poet Lucretius, literature majors don’t (or can’t!) read books about astronomy.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Hmmm…… an interesting jibe but I may have had to pick a quarrel with him on behalf of some literature majors. I may have shown you this before but we have fascinating research projects at the University of Canterbury which are overseen by Dr Clemency Montelle who could have been described as an arts major who read astronomy.

      1. Steve Schwartzman

        It’s been half a century since my astronomy professor made his remark, and I don’t remember what brought it on or how serious or non-serious he was. In any case, you followed the interesting jibe with an interesting article (and no, you hadn’t shown it to me before, so thanks for doing so now). Back in the 1970s a friend introduced me to an interesting math book from India

        that I still have (though with a much plainer cover). When I was teaching an honors section of Algebra 2 I taught my students a few of the techniques from that book.

        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I hope they enjoyed the experience. I remember my teacher trying to teach us ‘new maths’. I never quite understood the ‘new’ or the ‘maths’. Perhaps she should have taught us ‘old maths’ instead. It may have been more enlightening.

        2. Steve Schwartzman

          Alas, one of the “virtues” of reaching a certain age is that you see follies repeat themselves. From what I’ve read in the news, it seems there’s a new new math pervading American schools now, so that once again even numerate parents sometimes don’t understand how their children are supposed to do their arithmetic or algebra homework.

        3. Gallivanta Post author

          The exclamation, Heavens to Betsy (Betsy, being another of life’s mysteries) seems an appropriate response to the news of this new new math.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Smiley face, yes. Africa is firmly woven into my tapestry both in memory and in fact. My children carry the bloodline of an ancient African land, the domain of the Queen of Sheba.

        1. Tish Farrell

          Oh well that’s even more fascinating, and of course who knows where one kingdom ended or another began way back in Sheba’s day, or if she was many times re-invented. I’m sorry I’ve not been to Ethiopia. We used to go to an Ethiopian restaurant in Nairobi, much frequented by Ethopians of course. They were so gracious. And the food so delicious.

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          Oh my goodness, yes, Tish, you are right about the food. Sadly, I haven’t been to Ethiopia and neither have our children. Initially, visits weren’t possible because of my husbands refugee status. Later the problem was distance and cost.

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