Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bowl 32: Pam

She had welcomed me warmly the evening before.
I arrived in Emporia -- which I kept thinking of as Euphoria -- 
after driving for twelve hours 
through eight states 
with quick stops for gas, coffee, and rest rooms.

She told me she usually worked the morning shift,
but took the night shift so she could spend Christmas morning with her kids.

She asked if I had any discounts -- AAA, AARP . . . 
and when I shook my head she said, "I'll give it to you anyway . . . 
and, you can have the handicapped room, with the king-sized bed,
 and you won't need to walk upstairs."

At 7 am she was still there,
looking fresh and rested,
still welcoming,
still interested in the people who arrived and departed,
still touching people's lives with care, 
as she had 
day by day,
for eighteen years
from behind the desk of the Best Western in Euphoria, Virginia..

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bowl 31: Amy

We're walking the trails of the Emerald Necklace,
together and apart.
She is accompanied by her trusty Scout.
I walk alone ...

beneath my feet the softness of eons of life
that have emerged only to disintegrate and emerge again.
around me fallen trees silently transforming,
lichens and mosses hastening the process of melting back into earth.

it is one of those almost solstice days,
the sky is still blue
but there is the feeling of evening settling in despite the early hour.
there is deep silence, 
somehow undisturbed by the distant hum of the first bloom of rush hour traffic.
there is peace,
despite the heartache of the suffering that has been all too present in recent days.

She gazes silently as Scout drinks from a pool . . . they are clearly comfortable companions,
at ease after walking these paths together over many seasons.
"Scout barks at people," she tells me . . . "the rough bark of a hound -- it's not so pleasant."
But he doesn't.

Perhaps he too is hushed by the nearness of the dark and the quiet.
Perhaps he too is feeling this time of turning inward.
 Perhaps he too is quietly waiting for the return of the light.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bowl 30: Heather

I've stopped in for a cup of coffee.
It's late morning on a Thursday and the ice cream shop is virtually empty.
Only a couple of women and a child in a stroller talking softly.

There's something special about the young woman behind the counter.
Maybe in the way she asks me what I want, 
easily, with care, not at all rushed or harried.
Or maybe in how she notices me eyeing the baked goods case
and asks if I want a pastry with my coffee,
then smiles when I say I'm trying not to get one,
but then opt for a cinnamon roll
telling myself I will eat it later and savor each small bite.

Such a simple transaction,
so satisfying in its simplicity.
A cup of coffee -- organic and fair trade --
an exchange of good will and smiles,
the warmth of the coffee, and the lingering taste of cinnamon.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Bowl 29: Ravi & Vinayak

Walking by displays of ancient bowls from Asia and the Near East
I notice two young boys and their mom,
sketchbooks open,
capturing the graceful gesture of Islamic arches in careful pencil strokes.

Later, in the hushed silence of the Buddha room,
I find them again . . . 
One brother drawing the peaceful, dark, Japanese Buddha -- one I have often been drawn to myself.
The other, the golden-hued Buddha in the center, seated on an enormous lotus flower.
They are so small next to these huge seated figures,
 yet their focus and concentration bring the scale somehow into balance.

And when we begin talking I find they are delightful as well . . . 
They love to do art they tell me, and their mom makes art too!
They are excited about the bowl and pose for me in several different ways.
It's a happy and easy exchange.

Later, as I gaze on bowls from China, Korea, and Japan
I reflect on the ancient stream of artists
reaching back at least 37,000 years to the caves at El Castillo,
and on how the urge to make art continues in these young brothers.
I feel gratitude for our human impulse to make something of beauty,
something of use, 
something that reflects the joys and sorrows of our lives.
I think about those people from so long ago and wonder
 if they ever had an inkling that the work of their hands, and hearts, and minds 
would survive through so many generations
to inspire me and my young friends to do the same.