The Ann's at My Table
"Stare at something beautiful. Stare for a long, long time."
This is the first Ann. The one who reminded me months ago to slow down.
She is practical. She gives me ways.
The first Ann's words resonate with the words of the second Ann. The one who reminded me just a few short days ago to be "happy in all these little things that God gives." The second Ann is leaning over cheese curls with her camera, when her husband walks in the door.
"I do feel foolish," she says. "I mean, it's curls of mozzarella and cheddar piled high in a pond of golden day."
These Ann's, both a part of my fast-paced online world. They visit my thoughts, accompany my moments. Slow down. Note the sunlight. Note the curls of time, the secret tucked-in places.
I decide to stare at something beautiful. How hard could it be?
My first thought is to cheat the experience, work from memory. I know what my great-grandmother's table cloth looks like.
My second thought is to set a timer. But what constitutes a "long time"?
Forget the details, I decide. Just jump in (mosey in?).
I feel the linen between my fingers. The weave is uneven, as I suppose all linen is. What is linen? I realize I don't know.
I don't know if my great-grandmother used a pattern for this table cloth, or if she dreamed it up herself. Oh goodness, are these grape leaves and grapes? I hadn't noticed. Ah, communion sewn into the cloth—a silent, spiritual poetry that sat under dishes and glasses, time and again.
And there is more I don't know. So much more. Is this the lesson of beauty? How much we don't know? Is this what moves us to awe? The ache to know?
I don't know how she chose the thread. It is strong yet silky. Did someone peddle it to her door? Did she walk to a shop on some German market street? Who made this thread that has lasted through time?
The stitches are small, so so small. How many hours did she work to make them? Did her fingers hurt as she moved the needle through nights and days, stitching a love gift for her daughter's wedding? Did she work by gaslight? Electric? Did she get bored, or did this work soothe her spirit?
I don't know. All I know is, thanks to my sweet Ann's, I have looked for a long time. And beauty has left me with questions.
Ann Kroeker, author of Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families
Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are