October 31, 2010

SEE-THROUGH SOUL

THERE'S A BOOK IN MY FAMILY RECORDED IN A THREE-RING BINDER, THAT MY GREAT-GRANDMA LERA WROTE, THAT WE'VE HAD FOR YEARS.
THE BOOK INCLUDES STORIES OF HER CHILDHOOD, HER YOUNG MARRIED LIFE, AND THE TRIALS SHE FACED WHEN SHE WAS WIDOWED IN HER EARLY FIFTIES.

OF ALL THE STORIES, THERE IS ONE THAT STANDS OUT BOLDLY TO ME; ESPECIALLY AT THIS TIME IN MY LIFE WHEN I'M REFLECTING ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A MOTHER, RAISE A FAMILY IN THE CHURCH, AND REAR THAT FAMILY IN RIGHTEOUSNESS.
THE STORY TAKES PLACE AT CHRISTMAS TIME- ALREADY CREATING AN ATTACHMENT IN MY HEART AS I LOVE THAT SEASON SO MUCH- BUT IT HAS TO DO WITH A SUBJECT THAT HAS BEEN AT THE FOREFRONT OF MY MIND LATELY.
AND THAT IS...
CONTENTMENT
GRANDMA LERA'S FAMILY WAS YOUNG AND LIVELY WITH TEN HAPPY CHILDREN.
HOWEVER, FROM LERA AND CYRIL'S POINT OF VIEW, TIMES WERE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT.
IT WAS A FEW DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS AND THE SAD FATE WAS... THERE WAS NO WAY THERE WOULD BE ENOUGH MONEY FOR PRESENTS THAT YEAR, THERE HADN'T BEEN ENOUGH MONEY FOR ANY NEW CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS EITHER.
LERA CRIED AND WORRIED ABOUT WHAT SHE COULD POSSIBLY PROVIDE HER CHILDREN TO MAKE THIS CHRISTMAS MEMORABLE.
 ALTHOUGH SHE LONGED FOR THE MONEY TO BUY GIFTS- HER FAITH NEVER WAVERED IN SENDING HER TITHING MONEY IN INSTEAD.
THE MAGIC OF THE STORY COMES IN TWO CASES:
1ST: WHEN A CHECK CAME IN THE MAIL FROM ONE OF CYRIL'S OLD STUDENTS ON CHRISTMAS EVE. CYRIL HAD LENT THIS YOUNG MAN A FAIR AMOUNT OF MONEY YEARS AND YEARS AGO, AND FINALLY, THE MONEY WAS BEING REIMBURSED.
THEY NOW WOULD HAVE THE MEANS TO PURCHASE ONE GIFT FOR EACH CHILD. THEY WOULD HAVE MONEY TO CREATE A BEAUTIFUL CHRISTMAS MEAL. AND OF COURSE, THEY WOULD FEEL THE WINDOWS OF HEAVEN OPENED TO THEM AS THEY WERE FAITHFUL IN PAYING THEIR TITHING.
AND FINALLY... MY FAVORITE PART OF THE STORY...
MY GRANDMA, SABRA, WAS THE ELDEST DAUGHTER IN THE FAMILY. HER MOTHER LERA'S ACCOUNT OF THE STORY SITS NEXT TO SABRA'S RECOLLECTION OF THAT CHRISTMAS.
SABRA RECALLS THE MARVELOUS WAY THAT HER MOTHER ALWAYS DECORATED FOR THE SEASON. THE ORNAMENTS ON THE TREE THAT RETURNED YEAR AFTER YEAR HAD A PRIZED PLACE IN SABRA'S HEART. SHE RAVES ABOUT THE WAY HER MOM ALWAYS MADE THE HOLIDAY SEASON SO SPECIAL, WAITING AT HOME WITH WARM BREAD AND HOT DRINKS FOR THE CHILDREN WHEN THEY GOT HOME. THE COLORED LIGHTS SHE STRUNG EACH YEAR THAT MADE THE ROOM GLOW COZILY.
EVERYTHING ABOUT THEIR HOME WAS SPECIAL AT THIS TIME OF YEAR.
SHE RECOUNTS HOW SHE FELT WHEN SHE OPENED HER ONE GIFT ON CHRISTMAS DAY, THE DOLL IN THE BLUE DRESS THAT SHE THOUGHT WAS SO MUCH PRETTIER THAN THE ONE HER SISTER HAD GOTTEN. (THEY WERE IDENTICAL DOLLS.)
NOT ONLY DID SABRA REMEMBER THAT CHRISTMAS, SHE WROTE ABOUT THE CHRISTMAS AS HER VERY FAVORITE ONE.
UNKNOWINGLY, THESE STORIES COMPLEMENT EACH OTHER SO BEAUTIFULLY.
WHAT FOR ONE WOMAN, A MOTHER, WAS A CHRISTMAS FULL OF TRIAL AND FAITH-TESTING, WAS ONE FILLED WITH WONDER AND BEAUTY FOR THE CHILD. 
THE LESSON FROM THE STORY FOR ME, COMES IN THE BEAUTIFUL TRUTH THAT MAGICAL MEMORIES ARE CREATED BY FEELINGS- NOT THINGS.
I'VE BEEN CONTEMPLATING THINGS A LOT LATELY, WITH THIS NEW BABY COMING.
THINGS LIKE STROLLERS AND DIAPER BAGS, BABY CLOTHES AND CRADLES.
AND I'M SLOWLY REALIZING, IT'S NEVER THE THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY.
NO MATTER HOW PRETTY A THING IS, THE SAME THING HAPPENS TO ME EACH TIME I PURCHASE ONE... I BRING IT HOME, I SET IT NEATLY IN ITS NEW DESIGNATED PLACE, AND THEN I START DAYDREAMING AND LONGING FOR SOMETHING ELSE. 
SO WHAT THAT I GOT $80 WORTH OF FALL DECORATIONS THIS SEASON? AND THAT I PROBABLY SPENT THAT MUCH THE YEAR BEFORE ON OTHER FALL DECOR.
I STILL WANT SOMETHING ELSE.
A CABLE-KNIT THROW FOR THE END OF THE BED, NEW PILLOWS FOR THE COUCH, A NEW WREATH FOR THE DOOR, AND POT FOR THE TREE IN THE KITCHEN.
I'VE REALIZED THAT WHEN IT COMES TO THINGS: MY APPETITE IS INSATIABLE.
THAT'S WHY IT'S WONDROUS TO ME THAT SABRA IS SO THRILLED WITH THE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS THAT SHE'S SEEN YEAR AFTER YEAR. 
THAT'S WHY I CAN RELATE SO WELL TO LERA AND THE WORRYING THAT SHE FEELS THAT IF THERE AREN'T NEW THINGS TO HANG UP AND DISPLAY, HOW COULD THE OLD THINGS BE APPRECIATED?
I'M FIGHTING THIS INTERNAL BATTLE LATELY-
ONE WHERE I'M TRYING TO TEACH MYSELF TO APPRECIATE WHAT I ALREADY HAVE.
ONE WHERE I'M TRYING TO REASON WITH MYSELF THAT MY BABY WILL BE JUST AS LOVEABLE IN A ONESIE THAT I AM GIVEN AT A BABY SHOWER BEFORE HE/SHE BORN, AS HE/SHE WOULD BE IN THE HIPPEST, MOST IRRESISTABLE, AND EXPENSIVE (NATURALLY) OUTFIT THAT I COULD BUY RIGHT NOW.
I'M TRYING TO TRAIN MYSELF TO APPRECIATE WHAT I ALREADY HAVE.
I MEAN, ISN'T IT A WONDER THAT WE CAN FEEL SO INSISTENT ON HAVING A PAIR OF SHOES, OR NEW YOGA PANTS, OR THAT NEW SKIRT NOW, AND THEN HARDLY WEAR IT AGAIN AFTER THE INITIAL ATTRACTION?
THAT WAS HAPPENING SO FREQUENTLY TO ME AND I WAS FRUSTRATED.
DON'T GET ME WRONG, I WAS HAPPY WITH MY LIFE.
BUT I WAS ALSO LOOKING FOR INCREASED HAPPINESS IN A VERY UNRELIABLE SOURCE.
THINGS DON'T MAKE YOU HAPPY.
I WAS AT MY AUNT NANCY'S LAST NIGHT FOR HALLOWEEN: SOUP AND SALAD AND THE COMPANY OF HER ADORABLE TRICK-OR-TREATING GRAND CHILDREN.
AS I WAS THERE LAUGHING, AND ENJOYING THE COMPANY,
I REVELED IN THE WARMTH AND COMFORT OF A HOME FILLED WITH LOVE.
I THOUGHT BACK TO THE HOMES IN MY LIFE THAT I'VE VISITED THAT FELT LIKE A HOME I WANT CREATE FOR MY FAMILY.
THE THING ALL OF THOSE HOMES HAVE IN COMMON IS THAT THEY WERE LIVED IN.
MEMORIES WERE APPARENT. CERTAIN FURNITURE PIECES WERE WORN IN AND WORN DOWN FROM SO MUCH USE AND LOVE.
BEDROOMS OF CHILDREN WEREN'T PERFECT, THEY WERE REALISTIC. LIFE LIVED IN THE WALLS OF THESE HOMES.
COLLECTIBLES WERE DISPLAYED THAT SHOWED HOW THE FAMILY HAD GROWN THROUGH THE YEARS. 
THESE HOMES AREN'T PERFECTLY DECORATED OR EVENLY PERFECTLY CLEAN.
BUT THEY ARE FULL OF WHAT COUNTS- MEMORIES, HAPPINESS, TOGETHERNESS, FAMILY HISTORY, AND THEIR PAST AS A FAMILY.
THE PAST IS WHAT COLORS OUR LIVES.
IT'S WHAT SHOWS PEOPLE A PEOPLE A PIECE OF OUR SOUL.
WE DON'T HAVE TO CONSTANTLY BE RACING TO HAVE THE LATEST THING- THE NEXT INDULGENCE, OR THE WHIM TO PURCHASE THINGS THAT WE CAN'T  RESIST.
BECAUSE THE REAL BEAUTY OF LIFE IS IN THE LOVE WE GIVE EACH OTHER, AND THE LOVE WE CREATE IN OUR HOMES.

4 comments:

  1. You speak the truth woman! Your blogs are always so insightful and inspiring. My parents had a fire in their home this summer and the upstairs was renovated. It's funny how the "things" in the home I grew up in didn't matter as much as the memories that we built there.

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  2. Ellery!!! Congrats on becoming a mother, that is so exciting for you and BJ and I know you'll be an amazing mother:) I love this story, and that picture with the two dancers is one of my favorite pictures ever. I worked at sundance for 3 years and every time I passed it on my way to the bathroom I would stop and admire it for a second!

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  3. Holy moly you write so beautifully. I think I've already told you that, but I'm saying it again. Seriously. I love reading your posts- they are so truthful and inspiring. I needed to read this one. I struggle with the want for "things" too often and I too often have to remind myself that those things will not make me any happier. I have a favorite quote that I keep and read on a frequent basis to remind me of just that. You might like it: "The more you strive and search for happiness, the more you overlook the possibility that it is here already."- Robert Holden

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