Fabric production starts with the fiber and twist. This sheeps’ wool in my hands is not spun. It is neither yarn or thread.  There is no twist. When I move my hands apart, it separates. But look what happens when I add twist to it and then move my hands apart.

Twist, then, simple twist, is what holds all of the threads in our clothing together. Twist is what allows fibers to become strong enough to be worked into cloth.

The fact that simple twist holds together something that is so important to our lives is astonishing. It’s no secret that you all chose to wear clothing today, clothing that was made possible by twisting the fibers of  cotton, nylon, hemp, linen or wool.

The language of textiles is interwoven in our language, expressions such as these: dyed in the wool, spinning a yarn. Even our word “text”, meaning  “a writing” comes from the verb “I weave.” Think about that when you are describing the texture of a chocolate cake to a friend.

Or think about the phrase “on the fringe.” This bring to mind the edge of a woven cloth or a carpet. These are the threads that are barely connected to the whole, which are easily snagged or snipped  from the fabric. We, even if we are not currently on the fringes, may have once been, and may well be tomorrow.

It is with all of this in mind that I read Louis Duncan’s retelling of a traditional Navajo tale. Weaving Woman says, “It is good to take pride in our work, but we must not allow that pride to become master of our spirits.” Work life balance is not a new concept.

The story about Weaving Woman is about an individual who is possessed with her own production, but what happens when a society is possessed with its own production? We can have a conversation about creative, consuming passion; indeed, some may argue that this intense focus drives our world. But what does it say about us as a society, and about several societies around the world, that moderation in work is far from the norm? What does it say about our cultural values when companies like Amazon, in which people work upward of 100 hours a week and burnout in a few years, crow about the virtues of using up people’s passion and health? Many modern industries seem to demand that people weave their spirit into the company so that they become trapped, or become a shadow of themselves.

Another side of this is that many companies no longer hire full time workers, claiming that they are too expensive. Stitching together two or three jobs to barely make ends meet, without health insurance, ensures a large population of people on the fringes, people to whom a small crisis could pull them out of the fabric of our community. We, even if we are not currently on the fringes, may have once been, and may well be tomorrow.

The story of Weaving Woman is, I believe, about basic human dignity, and how we can often forget our own and others. Spider Woman’s tells Weaving Woman, “‘But there is one danger that you always must be aware of. The Navajo People must walk the Middle Way, which means that they must respect boundaries and try to keep their lives in balance. They should not do too much of anything. You must promise not to weave for too long, or a terrible thing will happen to you.’” To become free, Weaving Woman must pull out a thread from her masterpiece, creating an imperfection in her work, a spirit path.

Imperfection preserves Weaving Woman’s innate human dignity.

Imperfection is a spirit path.

The fiber of our being is twisted together by our families, and later our friends. We are woven into our communities large and small. We are twisted together by those closest to us that we may be part of the larger fabric of society.

The UU principles are a weaving pattern that many in this Sanctuary choose to follow. We believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. The Navajo Middle Way tells us that part of the inherent worth and dignity of every person is the passion of work, and the peace of imperfection.

Let us give space for ourselves and to others to live with Spider Woman’s wisdom.

May it be so.