“A Quiet Place For Words” Letter Number Nine was mailed out to subscribers yesterday. On the wings of Tiny Letter. From me to you. Join me there once a week or so. Slipped quietly into your inbox. I promise to tip toe in. Not make too much extra noise. To subscribe click the link here: Tiny Letter: Elizabeth W. Marshall.
Lost Art: A Letter To Something Gone Missing
Sometimes I pad around sock-footed or bare-footed, really it is more of a meandering. I am hunting in the corners and out in the open for the smallest of things. It is hard to sneak up on the small things when you are shod in street shoes. Clugging and clunking scares the memories. The repositories of once-upon-a-time, sepia souvenirs of past lives, faded places of remembering. They go a-hiding. This house holds tiny treasures tucked away or in plain view. It depends on how intensely you look. A home built in 1908, one housing family memories – generations of photographs, books and art- will call you into its smallness. That’s where the richness is held. Lodged in the in-between.
At Woodland Heights I wander. Slowly search for new smallness preserved among the old pine floors, wallpapered bedrooms and oak paneled walls. Minutia lies waiting in the mad and crazy world. It leads to big discoveries. The kind that reveal the best stories of birth- day parties with little girls in dresses and donkey rides to school. Stories of adventurous sun-browned summer boys jumping off of high dives into Lake Susan. Of first born Christenings and five generations of black and white family portraits hung proudly on a dark stairwell. Of family, then and now. Of love and loss.
Yesterday I marveled at snowdust. It is the first cousin of fairy dust. Driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains, it snowed. But I wanted to rename it. A mixture of icy confetti-like precipitation with the look of volcanic ash, it was barely snow. It looked like snow globe snow or dust bunny fragments, but not at all like the real thing. In the right light it looked like fragments of glass. Sometimes the real deal is hard to find. But it was snow. And the flakes were small. And it was beautiful. I pictured each flake under the microscope. And remembered being a child and marveling at the shapes of flakes under the glass, one hundred times their real life size. Icy art sculptures. The eye deceives. This itty bitty, tiny snow was snow, after all.
And I know small can be deceivingly big sometimes. The time one small mosquito slips into your ear at 10 o’clock on a cool summer’s eve just as you are about to fall asleep. You remember the painful amplification of a single miniscule bug turning your nocturnal world upside down. And you never forget. One sunburned nose. One stubbed toe. One bloodied up skinned knee.
I know the big sting of one cruel word. The raw hurt of one hurtful slight. The pain of one rant, one unforeseen verbal punch or one lost friendship.
Small can hurt too.
But hope calls forth the beauty in the ash. And forgiveness and restoration wash over brokenness and bruises.
Small, mostly I want you to reveal yourself to me. The cool trickling creek by a partially snow-covered path, a quote from John Muir right at the start of a frigid walk in the arctic mountain air. Timed just right to warm the soul. The just rightness of its poetic balm soothes you as you shiver.
Small, come by here. Reveal yourself.
Small, come back to us and never leave.
You are welcome here. You are treasured. And we delight in all you are and in all you are not. Sacred smallness. Come and delight us in your discovery.
Amen. The end.