My head swiveled when I heard the elder blurt out, ‘but you are lucky you like to pull weeds!’ I stared openmouthed because she was serious! I thought of the past hot week where the sun did not blink and the temperature and humidity hovered at ninety.
Upon her arrival for dinner she marveled at the lush lawn and neat garden. It wasn’t by magic but by adherence to a vision in my head of other lawns and gardens. A vision so firmly held that my hands worked while my mind was in dialogue.
Property to me was as far down as I dared to think and as high up as I could see. Large enough to raise children and then one day too large to keep as I desired. But that Sunday afternoon the conversation turned to those poor people she said who only had one or two interests.
I ventured to say that was what libraries were for and fields and parks and many things free. Parents were supposed to expose children to these things so that interests would expand.
‘Not everyone is lucky enough to like to pull weeds’ she reiterated. Across my mind were the hot summers growing up where our livelihood demanded that we work together to cultivate cucumbers, vegetables weeded if there was to be produce for the market. And I thought of my mother who listened to us harangue about friends who went to the beach while we worked!
But early on secretly of course, we enjoyed our siblings. We learned what it meant to contribute to everyone’s well being; our contribution was meaningful. We had fun with each other but our hands did something of value.
I followed suit with our children as my siblings did with theirs; an added dimension to life that sustained us all. Taught we were to learn to do useful things. Preceding beautiful was useful. In time we found a certain comfort in what our hands could do. In trials and crises when Spirit needs comforting, we turn to those things learned with hands that were practical and creative. Mother’s patience endowed her children to a degree she could not have imagined.
A priceless gift was bestowed. Our confidence was affirmed though I am sure the initial attempts were more bother for her than help. She could not foresee the carpentry or the iron sculpting, the artistry in her children’s lives.
Our minds paint pictures for us. Some dismiss them without thought. Others of us try to duplicate what we see in our heads. As I walked and saw early attempts in the first balmy days of spring the efforts to make beautiful, I wonder the people’s early teachers. Who loved them enough to stay the early pains to set the example.
The elder relative perhaps was right. I was lucky I liked to pull weeds. To go beyond the sweat to see the beauty in labor, the virtue in making beautiful. I have been lucky to be able to appreciate the wonders of life and the great good luck in helping to keep it beautiful.