7. A maze
For Christians the tapestry is not a puzzle. Michael Sadgrove's quest metaphor was a certain and sure 'long march towards the vision of God', which he chose because 'I am a human being and a Christian. Starting from any point in the tapestry he returned, reinforced in his basic Christian beliefs. The way this prior commitment literally bound him to a belief in the divine ordering of life may be illustrated through his meditation on the tapestry's 'golden bands'. Starting from the idea that the word root 'religio' means attachment, the purpose of religion is to tie him back to God, and provide an ordering impact of the word of God to bond an otherwise chaotic Nature. In this context, a Christian's meditation on the tapestry is likely to go round in circles. Each circumnavigation has a chance of picking up new meanings as reinforcements to an original commitment of faith. The main visual elements of the tapestry are there to provide routes to the belief that God became man. However, for non- believers, and many nominal Christians, the tapestry is a maze; where is the start, what are its goals?.
In one of his early sketches for his tapestry, Graham Sutherland set up a basic structure of squares to guide the placing of the various pictorial features. The rectangular framework underpins the map-like appearance of the finished tapestry with its orderly arrangement of circular lines, boxes, spaces and criss-cross ribbons or bands. This suggests a board game idea for questing. Pictorially, there are eight starting points each with a possibility of reaching a different personal destiny. People playing this game have to travel visually along the golden bands, and across the emerald sea, choosing each starting point in turn. A great difficulty is that they have to set their own goals.
Success in navigation is measured according to whether or not a player finds fulfilment through the transformation of old habits of thinking with new notions about his or her place in society and the cosmos. Whether starting from the centre, or from the sides, maze walkers are bound at some stage to leave the 'board'. Also, the high chances of discovering lateral connections in their thought processes makes it likely that a player will regain the board close to another starting point. These flexible and highly personal rules make it unlikely that a maze walker will come up against many dead ends. The spiritual jackpot for those who commissioned the tapestry would be the discovery by an unbeliever that life's meaning resides in the image of the risen Christ.
The following section flags up some ideas as guides and travelling companions to help viewers of the tapestry define and navigate its main landmarks.