Long before there were Pinterest boards, sentiments and quotes were cross-stitched on linen squares, burned into wood or sewn on pillowcases. Stitched or sewn, wood-worked or sculpted, the words were internalized during the hours given to perfecting the detailed work. It seems we’ve been matching beauty and words together forever.
My friend had a sampler that I loved when we were teenagers. It was quite large for a hand-stitched piece, perhaps 60×80 cm or so. On the upper right and lower left corners, precise x’s mirrored the edge of its wooden frame. A little wren sang over a misplaced nest tucked into a flourish of autumn flowers. All of this was to highlight the letters formed by wool in the middle.
Life is fragile. Handle with prayer.
While I could appreciate the sentiment, for me the real value was in who had stitched it. At the time, there wasn’t anyone in the world I admired more. So when her daughter and I decided to share an apartment together, I was pretty delighted to see the embroidered sentiment come with us. It hung proudly in our home for the two or three years we lived together.
And in all that time, I never really got it.
It’s true, of course. Life is fragile. We see it every day and yet I’m still surprised at how capriciously I can treat it. It doesn’t take much to remind me–a doctor’s visit, news about cancer (why does it always seem to be cancer?), a car accident, a death, expected or not–and I wonder again why this isn’t a lesson I can retain long enough to make a difference.
Life is fragile.
And so are the elements that define it. I’ve found this to be a very long winter, and yet it’s already the end of March. How did that happen? In just a few weeks, I’ll finally see my crocuses–I cling to that hope, but quickly after, I’ll realize it’s already summer, soon to be fall, and before I know it new snow will herald the arrival of another new year. Time–and life–goes by whether I treat it carefully or not.
Do you find it that way with everything else too? Health is valued after we can’t get it back. Deep relationships are mourned after they’ve been torn or thrown away. Mobility is missed when circumstances make it more difficult to get around. We catch up on friend’s statuses without really catching up with friends. We have all the best intentions and so little of the follow-through. We stifle growth by holding on to fear or judgment or the right to be right.
That’s not treating life with care. Or prayer.
I have work to do this week. Do you?
“…Anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”