A Transcendent Bit of Yarn
by Margaret Weis
A member of my congregation was due to become a mother for the first time, and the women gathered for a Blessing Way. This ancient tradition is used to offer love and blessings to the soon-to-be mother and prepare her for the beautiful and wonderful experiences of childbirth and mothering. Having never participated in a Blessing Way before, I was excited to learn more about the tradition. We shared words of love and encouragement, and pampered the mother with a corn meal foot washing. There were many moments of laughter and of tears, and many stories shared of joy, loss, and transformation.
The ceremony ended with a ritual in which red yarn was wrapped continuously around the ankles of each of the women in attendance, one after another. This yarn made its way around the group, encircling each of our legs until we were intertwined by a cord of interconnectedness and love. Each section was snipped and tied off around each of our ankles. We were asked to wear the yarn until we learned that the mother was in labor. At that point we would cut our yarn to release the energies and encourage the baby to enter this world.
I wore that tattered piece of red yarn around my ankle for weeks in anticipation and love for the woman who would birth her first child. The red yarn was an accessory during worship services, to classes and dinners, and while spending time with family and friends. The red yarn served as a reminder of the ceremony, the soon-to-be parents, and the anticipation of new life.
One Sunday morning we learned that the mother had gone into labor, and each of the women who had been in attendance at the Blessing Way prepared to “cut their cord,” right there in the service. But I was not wearing mine because it fell off prior to my coming to worship that morning!
Now, some might consider this story superstitious or odd. Others might think I was reading into the meaning of that cord and the power it held. They might chock this experience up to coincidence or chance.
Now, I’m not sure whether my yarn coming untied and this woman’s labor are connected, but I am sure that it caused me to take pause. It is in moments like these that I am most in awe at this Universe. It is at moments like these that I wonder most about that which I cannot see, or touch, or hear, but that I can feel in the deepest cavern of my soul. I know that that yarn didn’t hold any special powers, that it was merely an object of remembrance and solidarity designed to send positive energies and thoughts to the mother-to-be. But I also know that the yarn was a representation of all that is beyond us, and within us, at the same time. That yarn was a prayer. It was an attempt to channel the positive and loving intentions and wishes of the women in that room, of the Spirit of Life, and of the Divine into a life-giving and sustaining force. The red yarn was a conduit for wonder and awe.
Maybe the yarn had nothing to do with the labor, and maybe it had everything to do with it. In the end, a healthy baby was born in the wee hours of the following morning.
We will never understand the mysterious workings and ways of this Universe; we simply aren’t meant to. Instead, it is our role to seek meaning in the wonder, and to hold onto that meaning in our connection to all that has ever been and ever will be. It is to honor the connection to that which is beyond us all, and the mystery of it.
Margaret Weis is the Ministerial Intern at First Parish of Watertown, Unitarian Universalist. A former counselor, she lives north of Boston with her wife, Susan, and two rescue dogs.