Saturday, June 30, 2007

Finding a treasure

I think that there is some sort of familial link for yard sales, and like other traits, it skips generations. My mother was an absolute yard sale hound. When she got to the point that she was buying stuff at yard sales to put in her own yard sales, I seriously considered an intervention. My mother-in-law takes it to the next level. She's an auction hound as well. Small town auctions could include boxes of light bulbs or used purses as well as inventory over runs that have been purchased from retailers and antiques that people no longer care about keeping in the family.

To me a yard sale is just a way to get rid of junk. I don't care about the pricing. If I put something in a yard sale, it is just to get rid of it, and if it hasn't sold by the end of the day, it's donated to charity. I don't feel the compulsion when I see a yard sale sign to automatically turn my car in the driveway. However, the womanchild inherited that drive.

Yesterday, after attending to our embarrassing business, at the womanchild's request, we went yard sale-ing. I have to admire the kid. She got the yard sale trait and refined it. Among her finds yesterday were a functioning turntable that can feed her taste for vinyl records. As her friends download to their mp3s and iPods, she's collecting 60s and 70s vinyl. Now she has a way to play it. That was the treasure for the day for her. Her other find for her use was an oil lamp covered with a map of the globe.

She reserved the treasure of the day as a gift for me -- a small hand carved Italian alabaster trinket box. This small round box neatly fills the palm of my hand and has a detachable lid decorated with a delicate hand painting of pink flowers. For its size, it also has significant weight. I've never seen real alabaster before, and the only reason I recognize it is the label on the bottom that says Genuine Alabaster, Hand Carved, Made in Italy.

Alabaster is variegated shades of rich cream. I'd always imagined it to be closer to the white of marble. I know this has been buffed to a light reflecting shine, but I had also imagined that alabaster would be matte. Instead it seems to have an internal glow. The multiple cream shades are striated with sheer areas of colorless translucence. I've never seen anything so dense that was translucent without also being brittle. Despite the fact that it was sitting outside on a 90 plus degree day, it was also cool to the touch.

I know what she paid for this, and I know that regardless of cost, it feels like a luxurious treasure. I'm taken back to a dinner party held millenia ago, one where the guests were a bit taken for granted and treated as if they should feel grateful for having been invited, instead of being guests of honor. Having held alabaster in my hand, I can imagine the reaction of the other guests as a nearly hysterical woman crashed the party, broke her alabaster jar and poured a treasured oil on the feet of a basically itinerant guest, the oil mixed with her tears and wiped by her hair.

I was raised to appreciate things and to take care of them. I was taught the propriety of party behavior and how to be a good guest. I can see the looks of dismay, constrained shock and outright anger. I can feel the consternation at something so valuable being treated with such little regard. I can feel these looks on my face all too well. I can also see myself making a scene like she did. I've been that awed and that full of gratitude, and that I can remember these feelings gives me some hope for my still chilly heart.

I haven't decided where in my home, I will place my alabaster box. It needs a place where it can be appreciated. I do know what will go in it. I have a small vial of frankincense oil. I've used it to add fragrance to candles and neutral base oils that I simmer over tea lights, and it always hearkens my spirit to my Creator. It will be a tangible reminder of the gratitude I should feel for all that is good in my life, despite the co-existing presence of pain and shame. I don't know if the womanchild realizes what a gift she gave me, but I am indeed thankful.

yard sales, alabaster, gratitude


Blogger Magdalene6127 said...

You are now a woman with an alabaster jar... great spiritual legacy, that! And clearly, it was meant for you, who so thoroughly "get" what a gift it is. Blessings. So glad you found a treasure after your day from hell. So glad your womanchild had a hand in presenting you with it.

Peace and Blessings,


June 30, 2007 11:32 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

I wanted to see a picture of the alabaster box!

June 30, 2007 12:33 PM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

Yes indeed; the jar is a great symbol of feminine sexuality and power. What a beautiful gift from your daughter. xxooxoxoxo

June 30, 2007 11:29 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

One of your better.

July 02, 2007 6:38 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

I need to edit that. One of your best.

July 02, 2007 6:41 PM  

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