I have more patience. I’m less judgmental. I worry less about the way I look and more about finding time to write.
As I hurriedly prepared for a 12 hour long trip to a family funeral last week, I looked for a pair of “appropriate earrings” to take with me, and came across a striking piece of jewelry that I hadn’t thought of (or worn) for a long while. While it was very familiar, I’ve had it for more than 30 years…somehow, it was different.
Sometimes it’s the object that brings you to Wabi Sabi.
When my father was 2, his father was killed in an electrical accident. My grandmother re-married 8 years later. When I was 17, my grandmother’s brother-in-law (from her second marriage) gave me a stunning Mexican jade amulet that was encased in a hand-worked silver bezel. It had been in his family for more than 80 years. The pendant was handed to me on the eve of my 18th birthday, wrapped in nothing more than a small brown paper bag.
I was not told that it was an heirloom, and although I wasn’t a direct descendant of that family, it had been given to me. I guess knew this, but didn’t fully comprehend the implications of it until my grandfather died in 1996.
I was told it was “God’s stone.” I was told it “matched my eyes.”
I was raised right. I took the gift graciously, commenting on the silver hand work, the translucence of the stone and the honor of having been given such a beautiful gift.
The problem was… if you held the pendant up to the light, you could see a hairline fracture in the stone that looked like a lightning bolt.
I thought it was broken.
The problem was… I was 18. It was definitely not the kind of jewelry most 18-year-olds were wearing in 1975.
I thought it was old-fashioned.
The problem was… I had no idea, no appreciation for what a wonderful gift had been bestowed upon me.
I thought it wasn’t “good enough” to wear out anywhere (after all, it was ‘cracked,’ someone might notice!)
It was hand made. It was beautiful. It was a wonderful gift.
It was “put away” in the back of a drawer with other gifts and items no longer in style that I couldn’t throw or give away.
It was all but forgotten.
In my late twenties, it resurfaced when I was helping my mother clean out a closet in preparation for a garage sale.
In the last ten years, it had not been worn, but it did have a certain appeal, and so…
I wore it on occasion. It caught lots of eyes, but I was hard pressed to explain (too embarrassed say it wasn’t “purchased”) where it had come from, and how I happened to have it, so I didn’t wear it much.
By the time I was in my 30’s, I had grown very fond of the piece, and beyond the need to be able to say “where” something was obtained…. Compliments abounded every time I wore it.
I made sure to keep the stone out of the light, for fear someone might notice that it was “cracked.”
I began looking for matching earrings. (Yes, I know NOW… “matching earrings???” for a one-of-a-kind piece of antique jewelry!) OK…
In my 40’s I became “enlightened,” and wore it when I attended functions that involved my father’s family. Weddings, wakes, baptisms, showers and teas…here people knew the piece and recognized it, but asked no questions.
While at the funeral this weekend, I thought of the amulet that had “reappeared” in my life before I’d left for the Valley.
When I came home from the funeral, I decided to wear it.
It was this morning, when I put it on
…and it really didn’t match,
…and I really didn’t care…
I needed to wear it…
I had an epiphany.
I finally understood… what made this piece so special was the fault in the stone.
The imperfection that kept me from wearing the amulet for years, (one that couldn’t be seen unless I showed it to you…) and it is the “lightning in the stone” that gives it the power to change a thoughtless little girl into a woman of understanding.
As I came into work today, I thought about it…
Sometimes its the “object” that brings you understanding.
Sometimes its a life situation.
Sometimes its just coming of age.
Many times over the years,
I’ve been asked to sell the piece… of course, I couldn’t…
I’ve been asked what I thought it was worth… of course I didn’t know…
I now know…The gift of the amulet gave me a place in a community that worked very hard to exclude me…
And again, I know … Wabi-Sabi … I’ve found beauty and value and worth in imperfection.
It takes some of us longer than others…