Thursday, 23 November 2017

Carpet Diem - by Helen Murray

Have you a picture of what life is like? A metaphor or an image? St Paul thought it a race; Ronan Keating a few years ago thought that life was a rollercoaster (just gotta ride it!); Forrest Gump thought it was like a box of chocolates. A friend thinks that life is a series of tests (interesting discussions there). It seems that so many of us think in metaphors. I do. 

This is my metaphor: life is like kicking a carpet.

Bear with me. 

There's this roll of carpet - only about two or three feet wide, sort of like a stair carpet, that I unroll ahead of me as I walk along. Everyone has one. There's some artistic licence here as the carpet never gets any smaller and doesn't start out that big, it sort of magically unrolls in front of me. I do have to put some effort in but it's not actually as hard as actually kicking an actual carpet, if you've ever tried to unroll one in the living room while your spouse tries to lift up the sofa. This is a metaphorical carpet, remember; the difficulty of unrolling is seems to vary from time to time. Bit like life, hey.

You're reading this with a raised eyebrow.  Still, I shall press on...

So this carpet has a pattern and everyone's pattern is different - my own is very familiar, even when the pattern changes as it regularly does.  Sometimes it's a brightly coloured, cheerful, intricate pattern, and at other times it's dull, muted, made of dark colours or plain with blocks of different shades.  Sometimes it even has strands of gold and silver in it, wonderful shining threads. Sometimes the pattern has a symmetry, sometimes it's muddled up and abstract.

Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't.

Likewise the weave of the carpet varies - for a time it's thick, lush and rich in its pile, and then later worn, threadbare, sparse.  Smooth and then knobbly.  Silky and bristly. Sometimes my toes luxuriate in the softness and warmth and other times it hurts my feet. As I go through life the carpet changes from day to day, hour to hour, and yet I keep going, kicking it along in front of me without breaking stride.

There are times when I'm running, even dancing along, full of songs and laughter, and the carpet is unrolling effortlessly.

Other times when I'm plodding, trudging with my head down watching the way the tears make little dark marks as I walk, and those times keeping it moving in front of me is the hardest thing of all, but I carry on. What else can I do?

I can never see where I'm going; it's as if I'm unrolling my carpet through space - three dimensional space, where there are ups and downs - uphills and downhills.  Bits of the journey are brightly lit and other bits so shadowy that I can barely make out the shape of my feet taking one step at a time, one step at a time. 

The destination is unknown but I keep walking towards it. There's no stopping; there's no choice. Keep going. Got to keep going. 

It will be worth it when I get there.

The interesting thing is that I'm not alone during this walk - I can see other people unrolling their carpets, too. Everyone in the world has a carpet.

Some are in the distance - a long long way away, and they're obscured, blurry - I can't see much of their carpet so I don't know what colours or patterns they have; I just get a glimpse from time to time.

These are the people who I might encounter for a brief moment: sitting on a train whooshing past and I glimpse someone walking their dog in a field beside the track.

Driving past someone in a window of a house.

They're the people who come in to view for a second and then they're out of sight.  I see a stranger and wonder about their life - who are they? What are they worried about? Are they happy?  Their carpet comes near mine just for a moment and then they're gone and I never know.

Other people come alongside for a while - they walk alongside me for a time, or we meet and we overlap, and then they're gone in a different direction. Sometimes I see the same person back again. Sometimes I know that I've seen them before but can't place where...

Then in this journey I'm on, one or two people kick their carpets along with me. They're alongside, and they stay there.  Their carpet is so close that the edges of theirs and mine touch - sometimes they're so close that the edges wrinkle up against each other making a ridge.  But there might be a special person whose carpet fits mine perfectly. We're pretty much in step.  The weave and pattern on the carpets side by side are synchronised with each other. Sometimes I can't tell where my carpet ends and theirs starts, and sometimes they look very different. Sometimes they leave me behind and I struggle to catch up, and sometimes they're dawdling when I want to skip. But they're parallel with me.

There's a special sort of blessing in a carpet buddy.

Because their carpet looks and feels so much like mine communication is easy. There's an understanding. They look down and see what I see. We see the world from almost the same perspective. They know when the going is heavy and when I'm flying. It's as if they can reach across to me and help me with the weight of my carpet as I unroll it. They can point out the finest of bright threads in the weave when I can see only darkness. Sometimes their presence alongside me brings light to show me there's beauty in the pattern when I've been unable to see.

A carpet buddy is a very special gift. I thank God regularly for mine.

Occasionally it seems as if someone's carpet is nicer than mine.  They seem to have an easier time getting theirs to unroll. Their pattern seems brighter, prettier, more interesting. It seems thicker, nicer to walk on. Likewise, sometimes other people's carpets appear inferior to my own; I'm glad I'm on mine and not theirs! I can't swap - I can't even step off mine onto theirs - so I can never really tell what it's like on their carpet, and they can't possibly know what it feels like to be on mine, but it doesn't stop me comparing them, even though I know I shouldn't. 

Now and again I notice that someone I was used to travelling with isn't there any more. I'm so used to seeing them there but one day I realise that they're gone. Their carpet has run out. I know it has gone but I still can't tell what's at the end. I look around and crane my neck but I can never see.

I don't know what happens to the person kicking it along as I never seem to witness the exact moment it ends, I just see that it is no longer unravelling. What happened to the person whose carpet it was? Did they realise that it was going to end when it did? Maybe they noticed that the carpet was finally getting smaller?  Maybe it just vanished.  Then what?  I don't know.  Haven't got this bit figured out in my little fantasy. Neither do I know what's at the end of mine - or when it might end.  It seems to me that there's plenty of carpet left at the moment... who knows but God?

But I imagine. 

I think the end of the carpet might be quite ornate - like something fantastic and awe inspiring from a  Renaissance tapestry.  Or maybe just a bit of brocade and a tassle.  Or perhaps it slowly gets thinner and thinner until it's no longer there?  

But it's what happens when I finally step off the carpet that I want to know about. I know it's not thin air - there'll be ground beneath my feet that is more solid than it has ever been. Maybe I'll no longer walk but jump off the ground and fly like I do in a dream - maybe I'll have a grace that I've never had in my life. Maybe there'll be a pattern that is so beautiful that it defies description.   

My imagination isn't big enough.

So that's Life. It's a journey, yes.  It goes up and down like a rollercoaster, yes.  I sometimes feel I'm in a race, yes. But it's a carpet, unrolling, unrolling. Inexorably leading me somewhere. 

A beautiful, unique carpet that only I can walk on. I've got to keep it going. Can't stop, got to keep going.

Till one day it will stop.

In a heartbeat.


But I won't stop, and neither will God. We will go on, and on, Him and me.

That's when I'll know what's beyond the carpet.  It's going to be amazing.

Anyone got a Life Metaphor to share? Tell me it's not just me....


TheFlyingCarpet.jpg by Clarita
DSC005231.jpg by dhester
motiveGuilaneNachez.jpg by Guilane Nachez

From Used with permission.

Helen Murray lives in Derbyshire, England, with her husband, two daughters and her mum.

As well as writing and reading, she drinks coffee, takes photographs, swims, breeds Aloe Vera plants and collects ceramic penguins.

Helen has a blog: Are We Nearly There Yet? where she writes about life and faith.

You can also find her here:

Pinterest: @HelenMMurray
Twitter: @helenmurray01


  1. Really interesting read Helen, and it got me wondering what my life metaphor is? Sometimes I've thought roller-coaster.... I guess I mostly think in terms of the sea and waves - sometimes the waves are fun and I can paddle and have a good time, other times they are brutally high and threaten to overwhelm me.

    You've got me thinking, not least that we really do need to get together and do a bit of carpet kicking together...! xx

    1. Thanks Mandy. Maybe a boat on the sea? (Life's a voyage! Reminds me of Phil Wickham's song lyric 'When we arrive at eternity's shore...')
      Yes! Let's do that, please. x

  2. What a great metaphor for life's journey. It really works. The visuals work too!

    I think my metaphor would be a coastal path (I love the sea). The path goes in all sorts of directions, doesn't run straight. All kinds of bogs, swamps, distractions, foggy patches, dark woods ... the maintenance of the path also varies ... but on one side, always the huge horizon of the sea. Even if at times it's hidden in the mist.

    1. Oh, I like that. The weather changes, the height of the cliff, the visibility and terrain but all the time you can hear the breaking of the waves and smell and taste the salty air - now and again the refreshing spray in your face... love it. I think I'll spend some time there!
      Thanks Philippa. :-)

  3. A beautifully written and vivid post Helen. Thank you. I also love the part about passing someone in the window of a house and wondering about their life. I do that all the time and am glad I'm not the only one! I think my metaphor would be a road, winding between hills or beneath trees and sometimes widening out before the most spectacular view, before plunging into woodland again. Sometimes, I weave a bit or stumble. Sometimes I walk with eager, bouncy steps. But like you, I keep going, with Jesus at my side. I wonder what the pattern on his carpet would be like?

    1. I wonder! Thanks so much, Deborah. We keep going, indeed, no matter how uphill or how dense the forest. Thank you for the reminder that we're never on our own, not even for a minute. x