A couple of months ago I had personal business downstate. To help make the trip more palatable I called Inge to ask if I could sleep on her couch. Long story short, my appointment was cancelled and I suddenly had an entire day without commitments.
Without missing a beat Inge and I hit the road. In the span of one day we visited five galleries, drove around with the sun roof open, had a delicious vegetarian lunch and saw some truly beautiful and moving artwork. (Highlights were the Bruce Museum's And Still We Rise and the Neuberger's exhibit on Group f.64.)
As I prepared to leave, Inge asked if I would like to take some books from her collection. We stepped into the dark back room and browsed her shelves. Moments later I found myself the happy owner of the quirky History of the Alphabet, Itten's The Element of Color and several other interesting titles about design and color. Recharged I headed north on the Taconic with a pile of new-to-me books piled up on the passenger's seat.
A day or two later when I put my suitcase away I saw a treasured antique children's coat rack in our attic. For years it was the perfect place for Noah to hang his shirts and backpacks when he was tiny. But of course, he is now a high school senior and six foot two. The little rack has been relegated to storage for years. (I can imagine him hanging his shirts on it now. The shirt would be one-half puddled on the floor.)
That day, inspired by my friend's recent generosity I picked up the little rack and brought it to my next door neighbor. Lee is the mother of two preschoolers and a very talented interior designer. (I can't imagine how she does it—running a business with two little ones but she does it with grace and style.) Having seen her daughter's precious room I could easily imagine the rack incorporated into it. I tentatively showed it to her and she was thrilled. Not fifteen minutes later I saw that she had posted a photo on Instagram of the rack in the room with a sweet little dress on it.
The next day I ran into a different friend at the farmers market buying tokens to purchase a piece of pottery. As we sat and chatted she lamented that it didn't feel like spring yet—and she yearned for it. She mentioned that she had been enjoying my photos on Facebook. Without hesitation, I told her about my secret wildflower spot. I assured her that if she walked where I described she would see spring all around her. A few minutes later she came back with a huge grin and a mug for me from the potter! You could have knocked me over with a feather. I now have a tangible reminder of Susan and our friendship every time I go to my kitchen cabinet.
I'll be honest, I've found myself struggling a wee bit lately. I find myself feeling melancholy. I'm not sure where it is coming from. Maybe it is some of the life transitions in our house. Or maybe some client changes. Maybe it is seasonal allergies. But these bright spots have kept me buoyed. None of these gifts were valuable or precious. However, each was significant. They were given and received freely and joyfully. And it reminds me that we each possess many gifts. And, if we share them regularly they will come back to us tenfold.
This fabulous post from Liz Gilbert on the O Magazine sums it all up beautifully. To quote her:
No matter who you are, or where you are, or how mundane or tough your situation may seem, I believe you can illuminate your world. In fact, I believe this is the only way the world will ever be illuminated—one bright act of grace at a time, all the way to the river.