The countless hands in my imagination stand for the patience, the pride, the dedication of the vast multitude whose labor prepared this very spot for me to step on. Reverently i put my foot down.
In Austria, where I am right now, Thanksgiving Day is just another Thursday, but my heart will be celebrating with you. Above all, i wish you the joy of discovering ever new aspects of grateful living. For me, an oriental carpet, of all things, has recently triggered a new perspective on living gratefully and i would like to share with you my exciting discovery.
Today’s lifestyle has little room for huge rugs, and so, wealthy donors sometimes give them to monasteries. One of them, at Mount Saviour, keeps our floor warm in the crypt and i’ve been most grateful for it at Vigils during winter nights. At Gut Aich, a similar one adorns the Lady Chapel. There often are 6,000 knots per square inch in a fine rug of this kind. With this in mind, i’m overcome by awe, whenever i step on it. I envisage brown fingers tying knot after knot – thousands a day; i see fingers twisting fibers into threads, purple fingers of those who dyed the threads, and fine fingers tracing intricate designs. Behind those i see the hands of their teachers in those various crafts, and their teachers’ teachers hands, generation after generation. (More than 2,000 years ago, the Greeks already treasured Persian rugs.) The countless hands in my imagination stand for the patience, the pride, the dedication of the vast multitude whose labor prepared this very spot for me to step on. Reverently i put my foot down. And my foot, in turn, represents all those without whom i would not be here. My ancestors alone, add up to more than a billion, if i go back a thousand years, and humans who looked like you and me go back 200 times as long. Their lives form a texture, incomparably more intricate than the texture of the carpet; and the lives of those whom the carpet represents form an equally vast, inextricable web: Life that brought me to this moment meets Life that comes towards me, as my foot touches the rug.
And isn’t something similar happening at every moment? At every moment i am the point where all of life meets all of life. When this happens, a spark jumps – a spark of joy and praise. The essence of the carpet is praise of beauty; and so is the reverence with which I tread on it. This joy, this praise is thanksgiving.
Let’s be aware of this, when glass clinks on glass at the festive table. Here’s to you – in gratitude!
Your brother David
This letter, sent to friends on November 21, 2017, is printed with kind permission from Br. David.