Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Ann's at My Table

Table Cloth 2

"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.

Table Cloth 6

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?

Table Cloth 5

My first thought is to cheat the experience, work from memory. I know what my great-grandmother's table cloth looks like.

Don't I?

My second thought is to set a timer. But what constitutes a "long time"?

Forget the details, I decide. Just jump in (mosey in?).

Table Cloth 4

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.

Table Cloth 1


Thanks to...

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

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Blogger Maureen said...

You will appreciate the stories in Oliver Sacks' "The Mind's Eye"; they are all about seeing when you don't have the physical ability to see. I've just finished reading it and pulled out a quote for a Sunday Thought for the Day.

2:22 PM  
Blogger S. Etole said...

Time well spent seeing grace there.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

You have put this into such real words for me L.L. I am guilty of giving things just a "surface" glance. They someone will point out a detail that my eye simply never even caught. I love what those precious Ann's are teaching us. I love it that you took the time to put their wisdom into practical "doing."

5:27 PM  
Blogger Violet N. said...

Well, this is lovely! I see the potential to spend all day - staring, imagining, questioning. For there is so much to "see."

7:00 PM  
Blogger Michelle DeRusha said...

Isn't amazing what you actually SEE when you take the time? I love the Ann's...and I love you, too!

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Ann Kroeker said...

Thank you so much for inviting all of us into your dining room, to gaze upon your great-grandmother's tablecloth. You model how to see. You walk us through it, through noticing minute details and imagining peddled thread and aching fingers. It's beautiful (both the tablecloth...and your words).

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Amber said...

Thanks for letting us see your beautiful tablecloth with you in a new way.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Stephie said...

At first I 'saw' this post through my email account, but the browser is acting up, and then I came over to your website. NOW I SEE CLEARLY what I wouldn't have seen if I hadn't come over here. The images against your website background are beautiful and bring out the detail.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Duane Scott said...

I'm amazed.

And my curiosity is piqued.

What beauty is around me that I'm missing, simply because I don't stop long enough to notice it? To touch it? To feel its heart beat?

You've inspired me today. And the Anns.

I'm going to walk around today with my eyes open. I'm already curious as to what I might find. :)

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, am living between the two Anns, reading both of the books you reference, trying to soak them in. You have captured the spirit and beauty of them both, here.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Louise Gallagher said...

Lovely. Absolutely lovely.

11:18 PM  
Blogger Eve said...

Your great-grandmother made that? It is so beautiful. What a gift that you and your girls have this treasure.

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, LL. It's been a while since I've been around, but I'm glad to make it by your lovely blog. I've missed reading your lyrical words, woven together to find grace and God in the ordinary. Thanks for a beautiful reminder this morning!

12:07 PM  

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