Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Parable of The Pincushion

When I was a young girl, fifty some odd years ago, my mother gave me a large red pincushion for a fifth grade sewing class. It was shaped like a tomato with three green leaves on top, and was filled with sawdust to sharpen the pins and needles as they were placed in it and then withdrawn for use. I've stubbornly held on to that tattered old sphere for decades. It had developed a small hole and begun to leak it's contents into the basket I kept it stored in. It was definitely time for a replacement. I looked for another just like it and found one about half it's size in a dollar store.

A couple of weeks ago a friend stopped by with her 9 year old daughter. I gave Elisa the two pincushions and asked if she would transfer the pins and needles from the old to the new while her mother and I visited. She entertained herself for some time making designs with the pins.

After they left, I took the old cushion in my hand and, knowing that there would be several needles that had worked their way into the sawdust, began to push and massage the worn remains. After more pin pricks than I care to remember, I had released close to three dozen needles. I decided there would be less pain involved in the project if I sliced the cushion open and simply poured out what was inside. As the sawdust spilled onto the table, a forest of needles fell with it, nearly a hundred needles in all had been hiding there, sharp and capable of mending tired and torn items...waiting to be taken in hand and used to create heirloom quality beauty with them.

I began to think of the needles that had been trapped inside my old pincushion, and I wondered... How many women have been hiding the talents that are theirs in the sawdust of day to day activities and the responsibiities that lie at the heart of being a wife and mother, holding a job, keeping a home? Am I the only woman who has allowed her God given talents to slip unnoticed into tattered and worn old habits? Maybe I need to take a sharp instrument to my life and cut away the tired and torn fabric that covers my spirit and let my thoughts spill free. Maybe I need to pick up the words that have been wedged inside for so long, unused, unexpressed, and create something with them.

I am not alone. There are hundreds of women like my needles. Women with talents that are tucked somewhere out of sight, sharp and capable and waiting to be set free, waiting to leave an heirloom quality legacy of beauty behind. What a tragedy it will be if their gifts are allowed to remain hidden from view. The greatest sorrow is for what might have been. Who they might have become who they might have entertained, lifted, and inspired. And again I begin to wonder...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I Don't Know... I'm Asking.

My good friend, Lin, taught a class this past week where she asked those attending what we wanted to do to improve ourselves this month. She pointed out the importance of spending each minute, every hour, in a quest to become more than we are... Dang! That stings! I am not a well educated woman... at least, I have no formal education worthy of mentioning. I love language and am always enthralled by those who use it well. I enjoy wrapping myself up in the wisdom of a large variety of authors and individuals who have crossed my path. But, I just don't seem to have the clamoring desire to expand my universe the way so many do. The truth of it is that I'm too easily entertained. Everything and nothing fascinates me. I find even the most mundane aspects of life, and most unnoticed and unnoticeable people, interesting. I've read somewhere that "wisdom lies in gathering precious moments". I like to think that I recognize precious moments as they happen and always carry a folded apron in my mind to gather as many of them as I can. And I only see one major reason for life and that is to grow in love, understanding and compassion... for ourselves, and for every other creature on the planet.

I don't plan and study and work at "becoming"... I often wish I had that kind of motivation. But... I really don't. I just sort or meander the hillsides and alleyways of life and often find that as I return home after each "walkabout", I have evolved in some way into a higher, or deeper, self.

If I plan to carry a great book and a bright green marker out to the hammock to read and underline and post some goals... I usually become distracted by the dog that wants to play "fetch" with me, or the peonies growing along the edge of the blackberry patch, or the sunshine that becomes dappled as it sifts through the leaves...and my mind begins to carry on conversations with all sorts of imaginary companions. Are they garden fairies? Guardian angels? Remnants of friends and mentors who's memories are nestled in some niche of my heart? We share ideas and philosophies with each other and invent activities to make us giggle or send us into deep wells of thought. My plans to re-invent myself are shattered, once again, and I can generally be found puttering and dawdling through another afternoon. But, somehow... I'm rarely disappointed by the way I've spent my time. I have few regrets. I discover that one of the invisable friends that I've shared my day with has opened new vistas and enriched my soul.

Is this wrong, do you think? Should growth be a subtle thing that creeps up on us? Should it be the result of wide awake efforts every day to learn something more about ourselves? My guess is that it should probably be a melding of the two. I don't know. I'm asking.