Tuesday, July 26, 2011
About 14 years ago I received a gift from my neighbor; it was a Circle of Friends. It was made out of cement and its circumference was approximately 8 – 10 inches. A Circle of Friends is unique in that all the little figures which are identical are connected by their hands and are facing forward to a candle. When you put a candle in the candle holder and light it the shadow of the figurines dances on the ceiling. I loved it and because it was a gift from my neighbor it was all the more special to me. John thought it would make a good anchor, he is so practical, but I lovingly took it to our cottage on Georgian Bay and found the perfect spot for it on the center of our coffee table. For many years when we would spend time up there I would light the candle and watch the figurines dance on the ceiling and think of my many friends. I have a very large circle of friends and as the years continue my circle of friends has grown almost exponentially!
Five years ago our family made a very big change; we sold our Georgian Bay cottage and we moved to Northern Minnesota as well as leaving many friends from the Owen Sound area where we had lived previously. As we packed up the contents of our cottage I very carefully wrapped my Circle of Friends for the long trip to Minnesota. It survived the trip wonderfully but alas as it was being unpacked it was dropped and the cement figurines became separated from each other, now instead of one circle of friends holding hands I had about 8 separate little stone figurines. It was at that moment I had a picture of what was happening in my life; friends going in all different directions. When would I see my neighbor again who had given me this gift and what about all the new friends I had made? Old friends, new friends all separated from each other. In a moment charged with emotion I quickly gathered them all up and eventually found a new place for them in my new flower garden among the blooming Forget-me-not’s and Lily of the Valley.
This spring 5 years later I was thoroughly weeding the overgrown flower garden, pulling out Forget-me-nots and weeds and I started finding these little figurines, I soon found all of them bravely guarding their own portion of the garden, still separate and each one alone without the candle center… and as I began to remember other days and other times and my many friends I couldn’t help but feel sad and lonely, the separation of friends is so hard and difficult. My only source of comfort was to realize that unlike my broken circle of stone friends, my real circle of human friends is different; we have a Center Candle that will not break off ever and it holds us together throughout time and miles that demand separations and even the transplanting into new gardens.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Recently I had the privilege of visiting with a friend in Lancaster City. We walked down Orange St. to the downtown Farmer’s Market. As we were walking we couldn’t help but admire the various gardens and flowers that were planted along the street that surely depicted the planter’s desire for beauty. I especially noticed several garden gates and my mind instantly went to two old red painted windows about 4 ft high and 2 ft wide that are in our shop that we recently purchased. This shop by the way is filled with junk that my husband wants to haul to the dump. I got this picture in my mind of a garden with a swinging gate made with these unique windows. I could fill in the glass part with slats of wood or fabric or I could just leave it open, whatever… I just wanted a garden with a red swinging gate made of those old windows. All of a sudden I remembered the morning phone call from John (my husband), He was so pleased because yesterday he had gone to the shop and had taken a lot of old windows and junk to the dump. At the time I had thought, Oh that’s good, but now I had a sinking feeling that those old red windows were at the dump. Later as I was swinging on my friends porch swing talking to John my fears were confirmed the old red windows had indeed been a part of his load to the dump.
To make this part of the story significant you need to know a little background… John and I are on a new venture, we are cleaning out the buildings on a new property we just purchased which was left with almost all the belongings of the previous owners of about three generations. When we walk through the buildings I will look at something and say, “Oh that’s cool, I want to keep that,” and John looks at the same thing and says, “That goes to the dump.” We had had a difficult conversation about our differences and we had come to an understanding; we would really try to respect each other and our sorting decisions.
So now when I found out that John had taken the red windows to the dump, several options of how to reply flew through my mind… One statement though that John said made all the difference, he said I did not do this out of spite; I wasn’t sure about the red windows but decided to just take them. Which I realized was a typical John move. So on that porch swing as we were talking I decided to give up the idea of a garden with a red swinging gate, I thought I could come up with something else to make a gate… possibly. It was hard to give up though and typical me, I kept persisting. When I got home from my trip I asked John if he thought we could go back to the dump and get those windows and a week later when he actually went to the dump I just casually mentioned that if he finds those windows maybe he could bring them back. To John’s credit those red windows are back at our new place in the lean-to waiting for a garden to gate sometime in the future and I after 27 years of living with John have once again been surprised at the beauty of the poignant struggle of two human beings desiring to gate the garden of an effective relationship.