Recently, my step-grandfather made his transition at 107 years of age. My step-grandma made her transition years earlier. Although I never felt terribly close to either of them, my grandpa always seemed to have a wise word for me, and I appreciated his wisdom and insight.
After grandpa made his transition, my mom and dad proceeded to clean out his old concrete home that is, literally, crumbling from age. My sister and step-sister had already gone through the house to see if they wanted any of the remaining treasures. And then it was my turn. Because I am not much of a collector, I was mostly interested in the tour and history of the home. It had been since I was late adolescent that I had wondered through the rooms and halls. As we toured the home, my dad would point out odds and ends that no one seemed to take interest in. One of the items was an old wood cabinet that he made when he was in wood shop. No one else claimed it, so I asked if I could. I think he was surprised that THAT was what I wanted.....but I am more into the sentimental stuff, I guess.
As we were wrapping up the tour, I caught a glimpse of an old wooden bowl in the corner of the large living room. When I asked about it, my dad picked it up and handed it to me, and said I could have it. I could just feel the instant connection with the bowl. It was worn and tired, somewhat faded and dry; and somehow, I could relate to it. There was no date on the bowl, and my dad thought his parents probably wouldn't have purchased it new, so we agreed that it was old. I was told that it was probably used as a butter bowl and that there used to be a whisk for the bowl. The hole where the whisk would have attached was still there, and there was a small crack in the side. Other than the wear marks of using the bowl over a period of time, the bowl was in great condition. I decided I would take it home and restore it.
When I got it home, it became a centerpiece on our dining room table. I'd look at it every day for several weeks. I decided I needed to research how to restore it; to clean it without damaging it, and to bring back the wood grain. Slowly I began to, alternately, clean and sand the bowl. I would sit with the bowl, and run my fingers over where I had just sanded and feel the smoothness of the wood reappearing. The more I sanded the bowl, the more excited I was to get it sanded and cleaned so that I could rub on the mineral oil to bring out the luster and shine of the grain.
During the second sanding, I heard the words, "Slow down, let it come to surface." I quickly realized that the message wasn't only about me finishing the bowl, but also about me needing the slow down to listen to Spirit, and to allow the healing process to begin. It was time to let go.
After that experience, I slowed down the process of restoring the bowl. The more I sanded, more and more of the beautiful grain was shining through. And the more I could see the progress I was making, the more I wanted to sand out all the rough spots and marking from past use. I was looking for perfection. However, the next message I heard was NOT to sand out all of the blemishes. I was told that the markings on the bowl are from all of the hard work and labor someone put in to using the bowl. I also heard that the marks are proof of endurance and strength, and they are not to be erased.
Once again, I realized how that message could pertain to my life, and perhaps that of many others. Wow, how often are we quick to repress or erase the past. How often are we quick to cover a blemish or age line? I realized how these marks are our proof of our own strength and endurance. They are our war wounds, in many cases. We can heal the past, but it is not necessary to erase or cover the proof that we were once there. We can use those marks, instead, as a reminder to give gratitude for persevering and moving through the storms of life.
I certainly received valuable messages during my time with the bowl. So where's the bowl now? My brother really took a shine to it, so I passed it on to him. I do not know where the bowl will end up over time, but I trust that it will always be in possession of the person who needs it most at that time. I am sure it has many more messages to share; one just needs to listen.
(Below are pictures of the bowl from beginning of when I brought it home, to the fourth sanding. The finished product is spot-lighted at the beginning of the blog.)
Author: Betty Segerdahl