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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Broken, Bowed & Beautiful





Earlier today, I sat down to write my blog post. Elbow on table, chin in hand, I wondered what this month's topic should be. Having just returned from a lovely family vacation on Long Beach Island, I thought I might explore the restorative power of sun, sand, and spending time with my extended family. I thought I might write about traditions like gourmet sandwiches on the beach, playing Crack the Case, or the joy of finding an exquisite fragment of sea glass and a small piece of weathered driftwood. 

While I was thinking, while I was remembering (and while I  was wishing I had one of my sister-in-law's tuna, provolone and tapanade sandwiches), my eyes fell on the ceramic, apple-topped, covered candy dish which belonged to my mom. Growing up the dish was always in the center of our living room coffee table. I don't recall if my mom ever kept kept anything in the dish, but for me the dish is somewhat of a catch-all ~ it holds an eclectic (and revolving) assortment of contents, including sea glass and a small piece of driftwood.

What caught my eye this morninge was the outside of the covered dish ~  the chips, cracks and broken pieces painstakingly glued back together. After my mom died, I found the dish on the desk in my brother Michael's old room; the only thing inside the dish were splinters of green paint and shards of ceramic. With its chipped paint and broken pieces, it certainly seemed useless as a centerpiece, and most people would probably have thrown the dish away . But my mom didn't throw it out and neither could I.

I took the candy dish home and my husband glued the broken pieces back together as best he could. In fact, we do use it as a centerpiece ~ chips, cracks and all. Somehow I find beauty in its imperfection. Maybe it's because it belonged to my mother. Maybe it's because I identify with things that are broken, fragile or flawed. 

In the garden my drooping sweet peas need to be lifted, staked and tied after every storm. Still, I prefer the the sweet pea's delicate flowers and fragile stems to all the haughty, straight-backed tulips in my neighbor's yard.

It isn't the brokenness that's so beautiful. Nor is it the bowing down. What strikes me as most beautiful is the putting-back-together again, the stretching toward the sun despite soul-battering storms.

Though time has washed away the cracks and splinters of sea glass and driftwood, my beach treasures also speak of brokenness, loss ~ and a guileless beauty that defies perfection. 

It's no wonder I brought them home to put in my apple-topped candy dish.