Since I am an "extroverted hermit", I have always loved the interaction with people at the art shows and festivals. There is often a sharing of stories and HUGS exchanged at that time. People are amazed at the coincidences that happen very often to people that I interact with. I simply expect and anticipate that wonderful things will happen and they do. In truth, I believe they are unfolding right before our eyes, but many people do not take the time to notice the "connections."
Once I made a special ordered, wedding plate for a woman that I met at a home and garden store. Actually we ran into each other twice in one day and deducted that we needed to talk and make a connection. Amazingly her name was also Becky and she was also a registered nurse. Perhaps that was the validation that we needed to exchange phone numbers. When we took out our pens to write down the number, they were identical. Interestingly, they were unusual pens with elaborate native american patterns on them. After seeing that, we felt certain that we were destined to meet. Real life is stranger than fiction!
We really enjoyed each others company and I loved visiting her a little north of the Coast up in Perkinston. She had several acreas of land and beautiful horses. One day when I was visiting, the time simply flew by very quickly and I ended up spending the night. It is challenging to drive in the country after dark. As I slept, I had dreams that caused me to feel very strongly that she was carrying a burden of pain and that there was major conflict in the family. The next morning after breakfast, I sat down and shared the details of the dream with her.
She sat there and cried and told me that her son had not forgiven her for some painful things from childhood. They had not spoken in a long time, and although she wanted to resolve it and heal it, he wanted to hold onto the pain. To hurt her, he did not invite her to his wedding. She read about it in the paper and was crushed by the exclusion. A Course in Miracles says that "all attack is a cry for help."
I told Becky that I felt like I could be a mediator and help her with the separation by creating a wedding plaque that might bridge the gap between them. She said that she would think about it and get back with me if she felt like it was appropriate to do that. A few days later she called me and was actually excited about the idea and told me to get started on it. She knew that it would take about a month to complete the ceramic piece.Sorry folks no picture of this one. You'll have to take my word on it. (Also, I can create a special ordered wedding plaque for You too.)
Becky did not know where her son lived, but she did know where he worked. "Her" plan was to send the finished Gift to him there. When I pulled the Wedding Piece/ wallhanging out of the kiln, I was very happy that it turned out beautifully. Chris suggested that I take it to the Festival in Diamondhead, MS that we were doing that weekend. I hung it up in the booth and posted a note saying that I could recreate another piece and was willing to take special orders.
On sunday, the last day of the show, the son and his wife miraculously showed up at the festival and were shocked to see this plate with their names on it. Actually their faces became very pale and the young woman looked like she would faint. In a very soft voice Melissa said to me "I am Melissa and this is my husband Troy. Why do you have that clay piece with our names and wedding date on it?" I stood there a moment and said to mySelf, "Here we go again. OK. Deep breath. Thank you for Guidance and the most loving words to help them."
As I talked with them, I explained that I had met Becky and she had commisioned me to create a beautiful wedding plate for them that they could cherish. In all honesty, I am not certain what words came out of my mouth, but I ended up giving them the piece to take home with them. I did mention to Troy that his Mother loved him and it would be so nice if he could send her a little Thank You note for the gift. After the festival, I called Becky and excitedly told her the news. She was absolutely speechless and was overjoyed that it had worked out that way. In appreciation for the part that I had played in it, she sent me a check for more money than we had agreed upon.
Over the next few months we both got busy with other things and lost touch with each other. Perhaps we finished our business together and moved on. Either way, she sent me a lovely Christmas card and told me that Troy had finally sent her a thank you note. I am so Grateful that I could serve them because unforgiveness and regret are heavy burdens to carry. I have heard it said that forgiveness is actually a gift that we give ourselves. Once that energy of pain is released, there seems to be room for more positive emotions to fill the heart. I always remind myself of that when I feel a tendency to want to hold onto a grievance. Love and forgiveness can truly set us free.
"After the Storm."
After Katrina, I had so many customers tell me that they were amazed to find my work intact and unbroken in the mud of their storm damaged homes.That fact did not make us CRY less. My Mother found most of her ceramic pieces in her flooded home. They had floated from one room to another, but they were not broken. Everyone cried alot the first year... in fact, unexpectedly, tears would start flowing uncontrollably. I can only speak from my experience, and I believe that feeling the pain of the loss was a big part of the healing process. Feelings are not something that we can push down or hide from.
My dentist recently told me that his family did not lose my clay art work that hung on their walls. He figured it was because they were so "heavy" that they stayed on the walls. I told him that I felt like I breathed a creative spark of LIFE into the pieces and they simply chose to live, not die. Sometimes living is a tough choice when you feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you. Still, we are not our "stuff". We may many times define ourselves by our stuff, but we are not our stuff. Also, we are so much more than our bodies. I KNOW that we have souls that can survive. Sometimes the pieces may feel like they are scattered in the winds of change, but we can call the pieces back. We can recreate our lives and reassemble the broken pieces with love.
One man at the Peter Anderson Art Festival purchased a sea turtle the year before Katrina hit. He had struggled and struggled with the decision to buy it. He felt like it was a bit more money than he wanted to spend, but finally his heart won out over his mind. His entire family came back to my booth the following year after Katrina and told me that the water went up into their second floor and they basically lost everything... except that sea turtle. He was still hangin' on even after the water receeded. He seemed to be at home in the element of water. Imagine that.
My lovely veterinarian Dr. Hunt had received one of my pieces as a gift just before the "event". She had it on a table in her nearly completed dream home that was pushed back off the foundation. Later, she called me upset because she had found the piece in the mud and when she finally got around to washing it off, she was shocked by the message. It said:"May you weather the storms of life with LOVE." In truth, I had made that piece after the Tsunami hit Indonesia and I witnessed all of their suffering. It had given my heart such a lift to see the outpouring of help from people around the world for them. We even had an ART fund raiser here on the coast to assist them. Little did we know that we would be the ones on the receiving end the following year.
Another couple that had collected at least four pieces over the years came up to me at the ART IN THE PASS show and told me that they found every piece in the mud unbroken. The pieces were some of the only things that they were able to save.The woman told me that it seemed like an archeological dig. Imagine if you lost virtually everything, how comforting it would be to have just a few things to hold onto. For whatever reason, we did not lose our home, but we compassionately watched others that did.
We finally got my Mother moved back into her old, new home in April of 2008 after we completed the repairs. We lovingly unpacked the pieces that we had saved and hung them on the newly sheet-rocked and painted walls. I have come to believe that the memories are within us and even if the "pieces" are gone, the joy is not. Still, it is hard to release everything at one time and as humans, we are continually learning the art of releasing with love.