Stitches in the Tapestry of Life: Bonds of Kinship Part One
A Simple Practice to Strengthen the Bonds of Kinship
When we think of the tapestry of our lives—all of us woven together into one fabric—we realize how complex and yet coherent the weavings of a tapestry must be. There is such variety among us: strong ones, weak ones, troubled ones. We are a mixed bag of individual threads that make up our particular tapestry of family, workplace, community.
One strand alone is helpless to create Tapestry; it is inadequate for either usefulness or beauty. And how lonely! Our individual identities never exist in isolation—we belong with others: my family, my school, my colleagues, my countrymen. Humankind was meant to share life together, and we must endeavor to do so.
In all our disparity, can we identify bonds that hold us together? What is it that successfully weaves us into a strong, flexible, multi-strand fabric?
May I suggest one essential?
Joy is the sparkling thread which creates strong bonds, which makes us resilient and strong—together. Joy is appealing; it is attractive, and winsome. We like being where there is joy. But how—practically, specifically—can we bring joy into our everyday relationships, and grow joy-bonds with those around us?
Joy starts and grows when it sees someone who is “glad to be with me.” It starts with a smile, and a sparkle in one’s eye. Eyes that sparkle at the sight of someone send a powerful message: “I am noticed! I am valuable here. Someone is glad to be with me!” The simple practice of making sure our eyes and smile communicate this message makes others feel seen and special, and this initiates joy. Joy becomes contagious as it is expressed in warm, inviting body language and tone of voice. Joy melts resistance. Just by our eyes and our body language we convey massive, deep messages. “It’s good to have you here. You make us glad.” And it happens in an instant!
Isn’t this a need hidden in the deepest places of our beings? We desperately want to be noticed and appreciated; we long to be valued by those we live and work with. Spreading joy in this way accomplishes deep things with every intentional, joy-filled glance.
This vital, non-verbal communication is a quiet invitation to belong, to shelter in a safe place—simple, but profound. Trust and safety disappear and community dissolves when there is no “glad to be together” joy. What a low-joy place it is when those around me not only have no sparkle in their eyes when they see me, no smile of recognition, but who won’t even look at me! This important means of communicating joy and creating joy-bonds can be learned and practiced. It is a relational skill, not practiced en masse, but one person at a time, one glance at a time. Later, this message can be confirmed with kind, joy-filled words and actions.
Joy found in any group is evidence of maturity. The unspoken joy-bonds we form with others by this simple means communicates gladness and builds community strength; it builds family strength. It is a simple, practical habit we can learn and practice together, and so weave a strong and beautiful tapestry with those around us.
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”
Take a week or a month to notice the communication that happens through the eyes of those around you. Some glances will be warm and inviting, some positively chilling, but you will find that eyes can speak volumes. Those who are intentional in bestowing joy-filled, glad-to-be-with-you glances will find their relational bonds slowly strengthening. A simple practice of great significance.
In Part Two (click to read), we will look at another simple practice we can use to weave joy-bonds into our families and communities.
Yours for a return toward Grace, Civility, Beauty, Gentility, and Excellence,