Some Things We Can't Explain
In a world of Googlable everything, I love that there are still things we can't explain. Mysteries. Sacredness.
In the last couple of months, my son has been sending me photos of miracle places in Greece where he is studying. Monasteries carved out of rocks where men still live and learn and from where - I am making up - they beam down swirly puffs of peace to us down below. Breathtaking places. I love that they exist on the same planet as traffic lights and drugstores and ferry rides. I love that we can't explain them all the way, too.
And I love that magic and sacredness also live in our everyday lives.
Many years ago, in my era of young children and not a lot of money, I was blessed with the presence in my life of a fairy godmother. She calls herself My Jewish Mother, even though she is not at all Jewish, just incredibly caring and generous. She saved my butt more than once in those years and I am lucky enough to get to still hug her regularly, although not often enough.
For a while, the while when it mattered the most, she and I were neighbors. She was my safety net, my security blanket. When my flowery VW Bug died a not-so-early death, she lent me money to buy a Subaru.
I cherish the memory of the winter night when we were about to run out of wood for the stove and all of us had the flu. Laying on the living room floor under blankets (darn it's hard to take care of little ones when we are sick ourselves) I saw her maneuver a wheelbarrow full of logs right by our glass door and stack the logs as close as she could get them to the inside of the house, so I would just have to reach to keep the fire burning. Her snow hat, her gloves, and her quietness warmed more than the house, and still do twenty years later.
One of the ways that she and her husband lavished love on my little brood was by showing up at Christmas time and stacking mountains of festive presents under the tree. A tree which I think she bought more than once.
It is during one of these Christmases that she brought over The Big Roll of White Paper.
The Big Roll of White Paper was just that. Feet and feet of blank invitation ready to be doodled on, painted on, made into banners, or whatever grabbed the muse that day. It was the perfect complement to our overflowing stash of markers, pencils, stickers, and imagination. Because it was so big and because it felt as though we could never use it all, we never skimped on it and used it freely.
For years, as we moved from one sweet home to the next, The Big Roll of White Paper came with us.
Eventually, the kids grew up, found other things to do and other places to do them, and when I opened The Center for Happiness, The Big Roll of White Paper climbed up the 55 steps with me and took up residence in the Ballroom.
There its job was to provide a place for many more kids to doodle, for new big colorful banners to be made and also to cover the many inches of the Center's many tables for many art classes.
And that's when, in the early days of the Center's nine years, while I was once more covering the tables and not skimping on the paper, I first noticed that something funny was going on.
The Big Roll of White Paper was not shrinking. In fact, I don't know that it had at all in the past ten years.
How was that possible? I tried to think. Had it started way bigger than I remembered? No ... it couldn't have because it was still quite heavy and the kids would not have been able to carry it around. Was it a new roll of paper? No. Just the one. Was it ... what the heck was it?
So I kept an eye on it. Continued using it freely, letting kids pull out lengths of white goodness on which to spill their creativity, covering more tables.
I could not see it shrink.
When we moved out of the Ballroom, in August 2020, I took The Big Roll of White Paper back to my home, and there it sat, looking pretty much as it had under the tree that Christmas long ago, when it had become part of our family, part of our story.
I stopped trying to understand, I stopped trying to look at it from the corner of my eye to somehow "catch it," I just thanked it.
Two days ago, a young friend of mine was in need of distraction while her mama was receiving a life-changing surgery. I walked to the garage and invited The Big Roll of White Paper to come play and share some of its well-honed magic. I made a pot of tea for the little girl, her grandma, and myself. As all three of us women sipped and talked and waited, a colorful Welcome Home Mom Banner was created from the smooth, still brand new-looking paper. Of course, I shared with them the story of The Big Roll of White Paper and loved being reminded once more of its generosity, its seemingly never-ending abundance.
Then a few hours later, because Life likes a really good timeline, colorful markers put away, and closer to receiving the phone call that would let us know that all had gone well with the surgery, I left them to go have lunch with My Jewish Mother. As we sat across plates of Mexican food, I told her of the events of the morning, and I told her of The Big Roll of White Paper. The one she had placed under a Christmas tree more than twenty years before, looking pretty much the same as it had today. Our hearts touched across the table and even though neither one of us looks as we did back then, our love for each other has not changed, has not shrunk.
Some things we cannot explain, we cannot Google, we cannot "catch."
We just get to say thank you.
In the next few days I will carry The Big White Roll of paper to my tiny storage space where I know it will wait for me until I return.
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