In the month after my mother died, I suddenly looked around at my house and saw certain things that were just unacceptable to me. Things that I felt my mother was being polite about. She rarely judged things in my house; she had come to the conclusion that I had to learn to live my own life. But after she was gone, I found I could no longer live with certain things.
I suddenly found my silverware box unbearable.
It was the blue felt piece that it came in originally, the one that basically wrapped the silverware in a blue snuggy, with slots for the silverware to sit in, and a kind of zippered blanket covering and protecting it.
We didn’t have anywhere to put this particular silverware container, so it sat on the bookshelf shelf in our dining room, where it gathered lint and dust for the more than ten years since we got married.
I wanted one of those silverware boxes made of wood, that opens on a hinge, that looks like we are grown-ups, for goodness' sake, not college kids playing house! Thus I vented my sorrow on senseless things. I went to Amazon and searched for silverware boxes.
It turns out they are actually kind of expensive, and even in my state I wasn’t going to spend $100 to feel better about this thing. So I found one for about $30, and the reviews were decent, if not terrific, and so I bought it.
I tested it out for a couple of days before I decided to keep it, and it seemed to work OK, so I put my silverware into it.
Fast forward six months, and here’s what I’ve learned about the silverware box: the knives don’t stay in place. The rest of the silverware does fine, but the knives are always falling down (from the top where they are supposed to stand in a row) in a messy heap over the rest of the silverware. And so I have spent endless moments re-organizing the silverware box and putting the knives back in place. To return ten minutes later to find them back where they were before, in the lower part of the box.
Needless to say, this is not what I had in mind when I purchased it. I wanted everything to stay where it belongs! I wanted it to look like I had everything together!
Not exactly, says reality.
Life simply doesn’t stay together like that, does it? Like the laundry that constantly has to be done, like the dishes that are washed over and OVER again. In the same way, especially during this year of mourning, I have to just keep putting it back together. Again.
After a lot of testing, I’ve figured out that the knives are more likely to stay in place when I keep the box open. But when the box is open, all the pieces are more vulnerable. Another metaphor.
In this coming year, I hope I can keep my heart open – and also, worry less about having it all together. I hope to embrace the messy, sometimes beautiful, sometimes painful reality of life.
My family took on a shared focus of “ivdu et Hashem b’simcha” – to serve G-d with joy. I’m seeking simcha in 5774. What are you seeking?
Postscript: Please forgive me for any way that I may have hurt you during the course of 5773. I wish you only blessing!