BlogBlast For Peace ~ The Tablecloth

Welcome to the tenth year of BlogBlast For Peace aka Blog4Peace. We speak Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant us Peace) all over the Blogosphere today.
 I hope you have a wonderful Blog4Peace. Please visit each other on your blogs and see all the beautiful new peace globes flying around. 
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This is my peace story for NOV 4.

The Tablecloth


I never know how the story will end once it begins.
I only know it begins.
I get one sentence at a time.

The muse said, “Get your grandmother’s tablecloth, Mimi. It’s time to set the table.”
Set the table?
Yes, said the muse, set the table.
I never argue with the Muse.
 There was something in the way the cloth hit the table as soon as it was laid….

My Papa would come home everyday for lunch from the furniture plant.  We could hear the whistle blow and we’d have exactly five minutes to finish the biscuits in the oven. If my grandmother ever burned the bread (which wasn’t often) she’d throw them away and start all over. I saw her do that once and remarked what a waste it was to throw food away. But I knew from the look on her face that perfectly cooked flaky biscuits for Papa with melted butter was more important than spilled flour in the trash can. I remember watching him walk in the door, down the little hall toward the kitchen and being so proud that the biscuits were steaming hot and perfect, brown milk gravy in the bowl, crispy fried chicken, cheese, black-eyed peas, cantaloupe and iced tea. Sometimes we’d have vinegar pie.

  
From Maya Angelou’s kitchen

Do you see this serving spoon?

It belonged to Dr. Maya Angelou. A wordsmith capable of stirring up change in a young girl’s heart and one of my heroes.  She dedicated her life to the magic and power of words. When I was a young girl she reeled me in with “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” I’ve hung on every word she said ever since. 
Sometime after she passed away, I had the privilege of being able to walk through her estate which was being sold at auction. Being in her home among her books, furniture, paintings and the many rooms and grounds in which she lived was an amazing glimpse into her life. I sat in her den in front of a small bust of Gandhi which was also for sale. A woman of  powerful words and influence whose possessions reflected what she valued most. Peace. Love. The power of words.

But it was her kitchen that drew me in. Opening cabinets (soft yellow paint) and being able to choose a few utensils she’d used on a daily basis was even more important to me than the hundreds of books in the downstairs library.
I chose the serving spoon, a pressed cut glass serving tray, and a whimsical green flower vase sitting on the kitchen island top.  I use the spoon every single day. Each time I use it I’m reminded of the power of words. Her words. My words. Our words.  I explored the greenhouse and found a beautiful tall fluted rose vase.

Outside the potting shed door underneath the garage I found a footed topaz fruit bowl from Poland. I have no idea why it was outside or who might have left it there. It now graces the coffee table in my den. A few other small Christmas items came home with me. I treasure them because they were hers and because her words resonate with me, in the same way I treasure my grandmother’s cloth and her white porcelain dishes. Each piece laced with remembrance you see, and meant to be used, not stored away in a display cabinet. 

 My grandmother knew how to set a table. She cooked by instinct, not recipe. She would have the dishes washed before the last tea glass was poured.  She knew what it meant to serve her family. White linen laid lovingly for Papa’s lunch. 
White linen laid boldly with love. 

My two favorite quotes of Dr. Angelou’s reflect our theme.  She said, Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
 I would argue that peace follows.

Maybe it’s the place I find myself at this stage of my life. I know I don’t have time to waste being cautious to love; I only waste love being cautious.

The past year of my life has been interesting. I had to knock down some walls.
It started way back in the spring of the year. Something inside me wanted to clear things out and make open spaces. In the yard, in the house, in my soul. I raked. I cleaned. I sorted. I prayed. I threw out piles of regret. Cried over things and people one more time for the sole purpose of being done with the crying. It was a silent and fierce  rearranging of me.

Then the joy came.
 I threw open the shutters. I stood with my arms wide open and asked the Universe to notice. I no longer prayed that God would send the “right one” or even resurrect the wrong ones. I started to pray that He would grace me with love – wherever that love came from. That he would mend my relationships. That He would give me chances to settle my scores and dig deep into the reasons I’m still walking solo in a world full of couplings. That He would show me what it is I keep doing to keep it at bay, why I reserve a little corner for doubt and end up unconsciously sabotaging imperfect relationships for the sake of some high-end unattainable perfection. He knew I meant it this time.
And that’s when the easiness came.

Some sure kind of surrender happened in me.   I wasn’t even aware of the moment it came. But suddenly a long line of wrongs began to right, an unruly crowd of bygones begged one more reflection, and people I never thought I’d see or hear from again in this lifetime began to trip over my corner of the universe and demand my attention.
And Lo and Behold the most holy and unexpected peace swiftly followed.

When you choose to be vulnerable, you choose courage.  You stand in your truth and you own. Whatever that brings to my life is enough.  Enough!  Not good enough, not settled-for-enough, not hammered-out-and-negotiated enough, not just enough, but ENOUGH….as in twice-baked biscuits good.  
That good.

I’d been holding onto a whole batch of burnt biscuits you see…not wanting to waste what I’d put into them. I had my reasons. I thought if I held onto them long enough and stared at their imperfections, it would remind me that I didn’t need them after all. They would serve as a warning that scorched manna is painful to the touch, therefore, I’d never want to make another batch. That’s a nice safe way to live, isn’t it?

 But love cannot abide in the same kitchen as fear. 
Fear will choke the life right out of every biscuit you try to make.

So I took Maya’s things and put them side-by-side with my grandmother’s dishes on my grandmother’s tablecloth on my own imperfect table close to the heart of all I am. Beautiful things from a world-renowned poet beside everyday white porcelain tableware from a kitchen of brown chicken gravy stains  spilled on woven cloth that once bore perfectly delicate biscuits. My kitchen merged with Maya’s kitchen merged with grandmother’s kitchen and before I knew it we were cooking up a storm.

Dr. Angelou leaned into the batter bowl and said,
Have enough courage to trust love one more time. And always one more time.”

So go ahead…
Burn the biscuits, mess up the gravy, tousle your hair in a wild tangled love. Then start all over again.
Be brave in the unraveling and retelling of someone’s truth. Be brave and bare in your own. Open yourself to hear forgiveness and then forgive. Because strong love can only rest mightily and sure in the arms of a vulnerable vessel. And don’t we all want strong love?

 Walls are built for keeping out.
 Break
them
down.
And I don’t mean brick by brick, year by year, tedious by tedious conversation.
Knock them down
all. at. once.

Then stand back and watch what comes to you.

Now serving in the kitchen of Bloggingham. 
A spoonful of peace

Are you hungry?

 
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 Please join us! Blog4Peace November 4 and everyday on our Facebook pageOur Peace StoreHow To Blog4Peace ™1. Make a peace globe. Choose any graphic on this page. Save. Sign. Decorate2. Send the finished peace globe to blog4peace@yahoo.com or TAG Mimi Lenox on Facebook3. Post it anywhere online November 4
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