Image from Periwinkle Promises
The Princess Irene is given a ring. This ring, a gift from her great great grandmother, is tied to it a thin but incredibly strong thread. The young princess is told that when she is scared or in trouble, she need only put this ring under her pillow, and follow the thread.
Then you must lay your finger, the same that wore the ring, upon the thread, and follow the thread wherever it leads you.’
‘Oh, how delightful! It will lead me to you, grandmother, I know!’
‘Yes. But, remember, it may seem to you a very roundabout way indeed, and you must not doubt the thread. Of one thing you may be sure, that while you hold it, I hold it too.’
This thread, ever held by her grandmother, shall lead the Princess to her. She only need follow it. But her grandmother warns her that to follow it may not be the simple task it seems. This indeed proves to be the case. The first time Irene has occasion to use it, she is lead away from her grandmother. She is lead out onto a mountain and finally down into the mountain itself, far from grandmother or anything like her grandmother’s room.
At this point, Irene begins to become frightened, quite understandably. But what happens next is so crucial. Not only does she continue to follow this thread with her finger, but she begins to do something very similar within her heart and mind.
Before she had gone many paces she was in total darkness. Then she began to be frightened indeed. Every moment she kept feeling the thread backwards and forwards, and as she went farther and farther into the darkness of the great hollow mountain, she kept thinking more and more about her grandmother, and all that she had said to her, and how kind she had been, and how beautiful she was, and all about her lovely room, and the fire of roses, and the great lamp that sent its light through stone walls. And she became more and more sure that the thread could not have gone there of itself, and that her grandmother must have sent it. But it tried her dreadfully when the path went down very steep, and especially When she came to places where she had to go down rough stairs, and even sometimes a ladder. Through one narrow passage after another, over lumps of rock and sand and clay, the thread guided her.
Why does Irene begin to think about her grandmother at this point, about what she had said, and how kind she had been, and about her beauty and her room and the lamp? Because as she follows this thread, as she traces it with her fingers, running them back and forth along its thin strand, she is being lead into the darkness, along a very strange and unlikely road, and if she is to follow it, that is, if she is to continue along this way set out before her, she will need to continually remember a different story, a different thread, which is the source and anchor of the first.
As she recollects her grandmother and all that she knows of her, it is as if she runs her hand along that memory and feels of it, and in feeling, in knowing and recalling the character of her great-great-grandmother, she can trust that whatever has come from her can and must indeed be trusted.
This is the life of faith which we are all called to. For each of us, there is a path we must walk, a path set before us by God himself. We follow the thread as best we can, wherever it may lead. We do so, not perfectly, and yet somehow this gossamer thread is never broken, somehow never wholly out of reach.
There are times that it leads where we despair of ever seeing light again. And in those times it is easy to let loose the thread and fall to our knees, unable to rise and take another step. In such times, we feel we are lost to God, to the world, and to ourselves.
But in those moments, God can stir up ancient memories of happier times when we stood within his house.
When we recall the voice of he who once spoke to us, of he who has led us faithfully, when we retrace this thread, run our fingers over His face, we yet can hope that in following this frightful path, He has not and will not abandoned us.
Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road (Luke 24:32)?
When we recall even dimly the light of his glorious face, we feel certain that though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need fear no evil, for he is with us. His rod and staff comfort us.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.