Last night, as I stretched out in bed to get comfortable between my oldest and favorite sheets, my big toe clawed a gash down the middle of the top sheet. These sheets were a splurge when I was a single man renting his first apartment back in the year 2001 when I had just finished my 6 year tour in the US Navy and had no real savings on which to depend. Now, after over a decade of married years, we’ve had lots and lots of sheet sets, all kinds of fabric ranging from flannel to that awful sateen that makes me feel like I’m sleeping in someone else’s sweat suit. These have always been the best, and I destroyed them with my velociraptor toenails.
More aptly, I discovered the fabric has been washed that unknowable number of times and is now disintegrating, a fact learned only after poking more holes in it with my finger while mumbling a string of curses alternating between remorse and disbelief. It sounds weird to say that it would make my heart heavy to lose something so benign and ubiquitous as a set of sheets, but it does. I couldn’t bear to strip the bed that very night, being so enamored of them for so long and so I slept one last time in that embrace that was always the perfect blend of insulation and ventilation, and I dreamt.
Happy moments, distant friends, leaping through fields, my daughters running and laughing…
When I woke, I lay still for a moment, relishing that idyllic sheet sandwich, and then swung my foot out of bed to rise for another exciting day of life. As I did so, I caught that hole again expanding it three fold, and the sound of tearing fabric has been with me ever since.
I see a tear in the very fabric of our society. I love what America once represented, and I am a lover of liberty. Where once we took pride providing for our family, many leave that honor to the state entirely. Where once we took pride in attention to detail and effort and diligence, now we seek to get the most for the least, and take pride in how cheaply we gather more possessions. Where debt was once an abhorrence, now it is a prescription written to almost all by society as we enter adulthood. Where family values once came from the family, morals now come from Must See TV.
Everywhere I look I see tears in the fabric and I can’t help but wonder, are we the sheets, held together only by the strongest of threads but ultimately doomed to fall apart? Has our worth been laundered that unknowable number of times? Have our traditions been scrubbed out of the zeitgeist and left us such a fragile weaving that any pressure at all means collapse?
How do you convince a generation raised to mock the worshipers of God, that they too worship, only at the much darker altar of the alimighty self? When you are taught from birth that what feels good to you is good for you, how then will you ever arrive willingly at the necessary place of personal growth that can only be found on the other side of painful self-examination?
Christians call this the spiritual walk: realizing how rotten and sinful you are to the core, repenting, and living for eternity’s sake. Chesterton once wrote “you know you’re at your worst, when you’re convinced deep down you really are a good person.” Again I posit, when your sake is the only sake, and vast swaths of societal fabric live only for their own sake, how can the unraveling of society be anything but certain?
We are a people in dire need of weavers. We have always had the thread of absolute truth, but we have forgotten how to weave.
I miss my sheets already.