Levertov’s “The Thread”: Writing Prompt Idea

I make it a practice to open each Guided Writing Session with a writing sprint. It’s such a fantastic way to get right in and underneath our conscious, harried minds and to listen to our souls speak. I marvel at the incredible images that come spilling out onto the pages of those I’m sitting across from in 3 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes. I also write during these timed sprints and some of my favorite prose stems from these quick, shitty drafts.

Sometimes the prompt is a question or a challenge, sometimes song lyrics or a poem. Sometimes we write in response to a gospel narrative or a stimulating article. Today, we wrote from Denise Levertov’s poem, “The Thread”.

I invite you to participate in the experience with us. Read the poem over two times, ruminate on it for a minute (don’t over think it). Then set your timer and GO. Write whatever arrives for 10 Minutes.

The Thread

Something is very gently,

invisibly, silently,

pulling at me—a thread

or net of threads
finer than cobweb and as

elastic. I haven’t tried

the strength of it. No barbed hook

pierced and tore me. Was it

not long ago this thread

began to draw me? Or

way back? Was I

born with its knot about my

neck, a bridle? Not fear

but a stirring

of wonder makes me

catch my breath when I feel

the tug of it when I thought

it had loosened itself and gone.

Denise Levertov

Source: Poems 1960-1967

My Ten Minute Sprint below is cleaned up a little, but is virtually the way it first spilled out on the page:

Need to trust this silent, invisible pull of “The Thread” in order to write about it…wanting to



allow it.

I so often feel that I have to steward and keep my hand held fast to The Thread, rushing to crochet it into something beautiful and elegant, weaving and dying it to be appealing for others. Feeling like a disappointment when my attention span and my alternate desire to run and play and laugh means I’m not counting row by row, following the step-by-step directions. Left in my hands, The Thread is tangled. Knotted. Unfinished.

What a surprise then to find The Thread here within, woven into the woof and weave of me, a beauty I cannot clearly see.

Maybe I’ve kept it hidden lest it not be sparkling or golden enough, compelling enough, sturdy enough, but rather an ordinary sack string, slack and dangling to the side of a heart that has been ripped open, spilling it dusty contents on the floor, only a loose thread leaving the sack unprotected against weevils and dirt.

If pulled too hard will I come unraveled?

But here it is, pulling me, running through my life, a theme playing hide and seek in the fabric of our story stitching me to others, this glory, this glimmering hope of beauty, the aching melancholy of disappointments, sometimes the searing pain of this fucked up world.

The Thread is ours pulling us, knitting us together—this thread of glory.

Jesus spoke of The Thread in his final prayer, “That they might know you as I know you; that we might be one….” This glory that God gave us first while hovering over chaos and darkness and then in a pillar of fire and cloud, then in Jesus that beautiful vulnerable babe, naked and swaddled. Jesus whose Glory showed us the face of God: luminous, compassionate, tender, angry, jealous and now this same Thread of Glory promised, is in us pulling us ever toward the reality of God’s coming kingdom. Now. Not yet. This Thread that is at once our anchor and our great calling to come again and again to speak truth and reveal beauty in our art, pulling us toward eternity woven into each of us from the very beginning. This weave of justice and peace—of shalom—we know it. We know it. We ache and we are pulled by it.

[I had nothing else… yet there was STILL another 1:32 on the timer… so I started moving my fingers on the keyboard again…]

I hope you too will share a portion of your messy first draft brilliance with us here.