Every Sunday of my growing up years, we ate our noon meal - or dinner - from these plates. Named "Autumn Gold", they display a buttery border, rimmed in gold with shocks of wheat in the center. They are a remnant from my childhood; a lovely reminder of our days on the farm and all those Sunday meals around the old oak table. Though those family dishes were given to my sister, my dear mother-in-law found exact duplicates at a flea market. I was thrilled, stacked them neatly, and carefully put them away in the buffet.
Many years ago after my paternal grandmother passed away, my grandfather gave each of us something that was dear to her. I received this beautiful set of Noritake China. Called "Serena", it has an intricate pattern of vines and ribbons that wind around delicate posies reminiscent of my grandmother's garden. They are a reminder of her love for beautiful things and of time spent among her flowers. I carefully unwrapped the old newspaper from around them and set them aside so they wouldn't be broken.
When my husband and I were married, my oldest brother was unable to attend our wedding. After the ceremony, we received a package from overseas. Inside was a hand-blown lemonade pitcher and matching glasses. Six fragile straws were wrapped in tissue that fit within small openings of each glass. I was delighted and charmed...and promptly put them in the glass cupboard so they could be seen, but not touched.
Then one day I realized that though beautiful, antique, and original I wouldn't truly get enjoyment from these lovely things unless they were used and shared. I remember reading a list written by Erma Bombeck about things she regretted in her life and one of them was this: "I wish I would have burned the beautiful candle sculpted like a rose instead of letting it melt in storage."
Life is like that, too. We can bury ourselves in the cupboard, collecting dust and melting away because we're afraid we may be broken. But that wasn't God's intention. In all that we do, there is risk: risk that we may fall or fail, risk that we may hurt, stumble, cry. But for every moment of frustration and pain, there are equal counterparts of delight and joy. It is a step at a time, a constant journey that when shared with others makes it lighter, more meaningful, more loving.
Though sorrow and hardships come to us all, it is the giving and sharing of ourselves that takes away the bitterness....and leaves something sweet and lasting in its place.