This morning I was enjoying some fresh New Jersey blueberries while lamenting the small chip along the lip of the bowl they were sitting in, a bowl which I had carefully chosen from a myriad of patterns when I purchased it at a small shop in Cortona, Italy in 2006. I wondered why I am still sorry (two years after the bowl chipped) that it is flawed. I mean, except for the fact that the bowl is a memento from that trip, it holds little emotional significance. Or does it?
My trip to Cortona and the surrounding areas of Tuscany and Umbria was one made possible by an ex-boyfriend’s family. I recall their generosity, their love of Italy, their depth of knowledge of the country and culture, and their growing mastery of the Italian language. I remember the wonder I felt at being on a trip in another country with my boyfriend and his family; even the near constant drizzling rain couldn’t keep my spirits down. And, nearly eight years after that boyfriend and I separated, I still recall our relationship with fondness. So, perhaps this little bowl bears more emotional weight than I first believed.
Among many things I’m grappling with at this point in my late 30s is the ability to pause, breathe, and look more closely at a situation. My instinct is to quickly assess/judge an action, a comment, or a look and move on to the next moment in my day. What if I took the time to stop just long enough to see what lies beneath the surface? In the case of this bowl from Cortona, at first glance the chip reveals nothing but red clay that creates a discontinuity in the green glaze. But, on closer examination, the red clay reveals the hands that made it, the earth from which the clay came, and the memories of my trip to Italy. All of that can be seen from a few quiet moments of reflection.
Yesterday I had the honor and pleasure of attending my dad’s last service as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Macungie, PA and celebrating the beginning of his retirement from ordained ministry. It was a wonderful day of tributes and remembrances during which individuals from the congregation shared their thoughts about him. How moving to see my dad through the eyes of others, beyond the surface of his role as “father” and into his role as “pastor”, “leader”, “mentor”, and “friend”.
In my self-declared “Summer of Wonder“, I pray for the patience to sit still with my feelings, look more deeply into my loved ones’ actions, and hear beyond the words spoken to me to see what lies beneath the surface. There is much to be learned there.
Peace, joy, and health,