Letters of Life

A Thread of Anticipation


‘How lovely that bit of gossamer is!’ thought the princess, looking at a long undulating line that shone at some distance from her up the hill. It was not the time for gossamers though; and Irene soon discovered that it was her own thread she saw shining on before her in the light of the morning. It was leading her she knew not whither; but she had never in her life been out before sunrise, and everything was so fresh and cool and lively and full of something coming, that she felt too happy to be afraid of anything.

George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin (1872)

A thread is most commonly a string of fine woven cotton, and for Princess Irene, the heroine of George MacDonald’s story, a thread is how her celestial grandmother leads the princess in an adventure both allegorical and mythical.

A thread is also a clue, leading one onward without benefit of the full picture.

I’m holding onto a thread, anticipating a journey to a place I have never been together with people I have never known. Of course, every day is a place we’ve never been, and we meet people for the first time all the time.

Yet, some days are more different than others, and full of something coming.

We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway . . . Carly Simon, Anticipation (1971)


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