An experience this week brought to mind one of my favorite movie quotes from Miss Congeniality, “That’s right; wear the crown. Envision the crown. Be the crown…” I wish I could use the video clip to depict the intensity and the human frailty in the scene… but let’s move on. The crown in my family looks quite different anyway.
I grew up within a religious system that’s renown for submission through guilt. If that wasn’t enough to give me an exceptionally tender conscious, I also face Post Traumatic Stress Disorder issues that sometimes test my balance.
Recently I had overwhelming guilt for an incident that, maybe in some section of the universe could have been avoided, but in ours it falls under the category, stuff happens – deal with it. I suspect only I would actually shoulder any blame.
While we were all either on line or lounging upstairs, no where near the kitchen, we heard something fall downstairs. We all heard the sound, and asked about it, but only I investigated. A cup from my Sister’s matching dish set fell over and the handle broke off into pieces. Being especially fond of tableware in general, my kind of sparkly, I felt the loss like a stubbed toe.
Though it’s not fine china, it was the first piece of her set to break. What’s more, unable to find where I’d left my travel cup that morning, I had used the cup – that’s right, heap on the guilt. I hand washed it and set it on counter-top rack to dry. Not really paying attention, in my somewhat obsessive way I assumed I had placed it securely. In our older, rather run-down townhouse, vibrations occur and items simply and otherwise inexplicably fall, especially in the ramshackle kitchen. There’s no mystery there.
A collector of antique, fine china and porcelain, I’m not a huge fan of Sister’s squared dishes. But one of the few items she saved from her marriage, she is very fond of the set. It may as well have been cast iron for the weight I felt.
After guilt, and then denial, my next inclination was to shrug it off as happenstance. But no. Being hyper-sensitive about things I lost during my separation, I felt the stab of loss again. Like some places of our hearts, sharp spikes remained on the cup where the handle broke away – literally a two-edged sword.
Also being exceptionally green minded, I began to brain storm how to re-purpose the cup. I often get teased about this inclination, so I kept my ideas to myself. The uneven breaks make a better seat for gluing it, but if there were missing shards, the surfaces could require filling and polishing which is tricky. Those who have experienced any degree of PTSD can easily understand how old memories blindsided me as I searched the sink and counters for shards.
After years of expert counseling, I’m grateful for my vast experience managing such episodes. So I set the cup aside, went to my safe place (sat down there on the tile floor) and examined the facts and the memories. Eventually it all melted into a single concern:
– No matter what, the cup cannot be unbroken. As I have experienced, much like I would, Sister was going to suffer more pain over the loss.
– – The best and only thing I could do is destroy all evidence and lie about what fell or hope to be available to either console her, or take the brunt of her emotions.
Maybe I’m going through a hormonal influx. Or perhaps the loss was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had not only nicked my thumb taking a shard from the garbage disposer, but memories and emotions overwhelmed me and I melted into a tear and blood puddle. Okay, actually tears (and some blood) dampened my blouse.
Wiping mascara traces from my face, in my potentially unstable disposition I prayed for help and direction. Before I could say, “Amen” two images successively burst onto my mind’s big screen.
– The scene in Murphy’s Romance where the son confessed to his mom that he broke, and then mended a plate before she discovered it.
– The first Easter Sunday dinner with family a few weeks after I met Jesus.
After I cried myself dry, I prayed to make sense of the scenes and then get back to work. Immediately the image of the toasting glasses and the pewter goblet I purchased for that family Easter dinner came back to mind in a spotlight. That image made the most sense, so I went with it.
My first holiday dinner with family in a decade, it fell on me to not only say grace, but to make the toast. It’s a tradition we all look forward to, especially afterward; mocking, editing and re-interpreting what the toastmaster actually said. In my new birth as it was, that year was different – for me at least. I had substantial resources at the time, so I purchased fine crystal toasting glasses as a gift to everyone there, one rustic pewter goblet and a couple of nice bottles of wine.
My toast attributed how at the Last Supper Jesus drank from a common cup; the contents of which represented, among other things, each one of our wrongs, past, future and present – for all mankind. My prayer was that we all remember to drink from the cup, but to strive to not fill the cup. It was a bit over-the-top, especially for my sibilant company, and so polite ridicule and jesting flowed freely for hours.
In my new found relationship with Jesus, the meaning came from somewhere deeper in me than I knew existed. Decades later, on her deathbed, Momma recalled that toast almost verbatim. Though she never mentioned it before then, she proudly remembered it all those years. It was only then that I realized she had never joined the chiding either. It was a blessing I could never have imagined. For some reason I don’t actually grasp yet, I actually felt redeemed somehow.
Later on I opted to glue the handle back onto the cup. Wiping the dribbles of super glue from it as best I could, the inside edges of the handle has a sharp ridge where a shard is missing. It could potentially cut a finger. As I reflected on the work, brainstormed how I could polish it out with emery cloth and remove the excess glue well enough, I again remembered the toast from years before. I dearly wanted to drink from the cup, and not help fill it.
Through the years I’ve come to relate my walk with Jesus to be like crafting the crown He promises us. Mine will most likely be dinged up a bit, bent and misshapen with some stones missing, but I’m honored to own it. I look forward to tossing it across the Glassy Sea. Today I can envision the crown, “be the crown.”
Instead of proceeding with mending the cup, I chose to write this story. I’ll print it and put it into the cup – and stow it at the very back of the cupboard. I might email it to Sister so she doesn’t count on using the full dish set in the unforeseen future (redirecting more guilt – it could happen), but hopefully she’ll have read it here already.
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.” The Apostle Paul
1 Corinthians 10:31-33 (NLT)