Saturday, February 20, 2010
The Jar of Peaches
Thomas Cole - Essay on American Scenery
Do you own something you really like, but you're not quite sure just why?
A few years ago I found a pale green jar at a flea market and bought it for two dollars. I'm not sure whether it was used for canning or for storage, but it has the rubber seal and the metal hinge like the jars which were used for those purposes.
Would you think it odd if I told you that something about this jar mellows my mood? When I open the cabinet and reach for it, you would think I was lifting a great treasure. I'm sure I don't actually smile, but I get a cozy feeling --not unlike the comfort of wearing soft, furry socks on a cool February night.
Some mornings I cook oatmeal -- either the "old-fashioned," which takes five minutes, or the "steel-cut oats," which take thirty. I usually add raisins during the cooking process, because I like the way they plump up in the water. When the oatmeal is ready to eat, I don't add butter or milk, but I do add about a teaspoon of brown sugar. The brown sugar is stored in the green jar.
I realized early on there was something about the jar that made me feel happy, and decided maybe it was the color. I set out for another flea market, on a quest for a pale green bowl to complete the breakfast experience. I found a pretty one with a subtle design around the edge, so I bought it for four dollars, and looked forward to breakfast the next morning.
It was disappointing. The bowl just didn't provide any extra measure of satisfaction. Maybe it was because it was not of the same era. Maybe it was because it was a contrivance instead of happenstance. Or maybe, it has to do with the person who used to own the jar.
I am not superstitious. I believe things are only things, and have the meanings we ascribe to them. I also leave room for recognition of the mysteries of energies all around us. Who hasn't had the experience of energies, such as when walking into a room and sensing that something is wrong, even without having seen or heard anything?
But what I like to imagine is the possibility that one day, a prayer was prayed that went something like "...and may whoever uses this humble jar, though it be only a glass vessel, be blessed, O Lord. Our possessions may be few, but our lives are rich. Amen."
Yes. This is the way I like to imagine it. I think of a petite, strong woman who grows a vegetable garden. Her husband raises chickens and cows and hogs. They live modestly, but happily. And they go to church on Sundays. Then one day, when she was filling her canning jar with peaches, she was inspired to say "...and may whoever uses this humble jar, though it be only a glass vessel, be blessed, O Lord..."
I can't really know why I am affected by this object of glass the way I am. But I know that I am blessed. I know my life is rich. And I am thankful. Amen.