Soon after I published yesterday’s post (Mystery Tool: Gimlet), I received a phone call from a neighbor… and she was crying.
Though I’d been writing primarily about the gimlet, an antique tool, I had included photos of some of the other “trash” we’ve found during the forest restoration work. One of those photos was of a bracelet I had unearthed in Winter or Spring of 2018 when I was digging out blackberry roots.
At the time I found the bracelet, I believed it was costume jewelry, but as I continued to look at it I began to wonder. What if the band was made of gold and the jewels were real? I decided to take it to a jeweler. I was a little disappointed when, after looking at it through a microscope, the jeweler reported that it was “fun” jewelry.
Well, it turned out that the bracelet was valuable—just in a different way. When my neighbor read my post, she had seen the photo of the bracelet. Through her tears, she told me the bracelet had been her mother’s, and it had been stolen from my neighbor’s house in 2014! She said she still had a segment of the necklace and an earring that went with it. I, of course, returned the bracelet.
I get chills even now as I think of my neighbor’s deep emotion, the remote chance that I had found this particular item in one shovelful of dirt in an acre of land; that it belonged to one of the two neighbors who I know reads my blog; and to make it even more remarkable, she has helped during some of the restoration work parties! So much Grace.
Now that he is back from working on Amma’s North India tour, Sreejit from The Seeker’s Dungeon is starting a new Guest Posting event. It is called From Darkness to Light. Everyone who reads this post is welcome to write for it. Feel free to tell your friends, family, colleagues and anyone else in your life about it! They are also welcome to participate.
Sreejit said: “It is about sharing your darkest times and how you were able to use it to find purpose in your life. Your words might be just what someone else needs to hear. And in sharing we can all remember that we are not alone in our struggles.”
I woke up during the night with the song How Great Thou Art reverberating throughout my body and soul. It was one of those dreams that was so much more than a dream, or maybe it wasn’t a dream at all. I felt grateful and blessed.
I heard that song for the first time in 1962 when George Beverly Shea sang it during a Billy Graham crusade my mother and I attended. I was in 10th grade at the time and we were living at Ft. Shafter Army Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. That experience was a major turning point in my life. While it wasn’t the beginning of my spiritual life, it certainly was the beginning of a new chapter.
I woke up several times during the night with that “dream” in the forefront of my mind. Again, I felt grateful and blessed. My sleep ended at 4 a.m. when I started thinking of events that had occurred early in my life. I remembered being really young (5 years old?) and loving the Christian music my father’s mother sang to me when my family visited her in New Jersey. As I thought about those times, the words “church in the vale” and later “little brown church in the vale” came into my mind. I don’t remember if that was a song my grandmother introduced me to, but it certainly could have been.
I decided to write a post about my dream and the reflections that followed it so I got up. I looked for YouTube videos of both songs. The video I chose for How Great Thou Art was recorded in 1957, several years before I heard the magnificent song for the first time. It was probably recorded during a Billy Graham crusade. Wikipedia says the song “is a Christian hymn based on a Swedish traditional melody and a poem written by Carl Boberg in Mönsterås, Sweden in 1885.”
The other song is called the Church in the Wildwood or The Little Brown Church. The video I’m sharing for that one is of Andy Griffith, Don Knotts and Robert Emhardt singing it in a 1963 show. That song was written by Dr. William S. Pitts in 1857.
I just saw this video on the television. The story definitely touched me; tears are rolling down my cheeks. It is refreshing and heartening to hear some good news in the midst of all of the dark things that are happening..
In 1989 or 1990, a friend wrote a poem for me. It was written soon after I met Amma, but prior to the time I asked Amma for a name. So at that time my name was Carol. That name seems so unfamiliar to me now.
Her poem came into my mind the other day; for the first time in decades. I was able to find the booklet it was published in.
THE COURAGE TO BELIEVE, FOR CAROL POOLE
The pot looked empty. It was a clay pot, orange and cracked from the rain. On Mondays people came to fill it and the water, somewhat yellowed, seeped out at the bottom.
At first I wondered why they didn’t patch it. But looking closely, I saw their need to bend slightly to the right. Some called it agility, but really they were trying to keep their hands on the hole.
Now you choose a jug, and songs arise from its clay. And in the rhythms of drums from inside, the moon-roundness of it takes on the form of a woman with the courage to believe.
The jug is round and smooth, and the water is always full.
Thank you Shelley. Your poem means as much to me today as it did the first time I read it. I hope our paths cross again some time in the future.
When I picked this title, I wanted something that would grab Al (my ex-husband)’s attention and the attention of everyone who knows him. I think the content will also be of interest to others who read my blog.
When Amma’s Seattle satsang began the PNW Litter Project in 2011, we focused on general litter pick up. Before long, King County Parks Department hired us to pick up cigarette butts in various county parks. At the time the Parks Department was doing research to determine how big a problem cigarette butts were.
The Seattle arm of the Pacific Northwest project kept the cigarette butt focus even after our “job” with the county was over. Cigarette butts are way more toxic than you might think. They are NOT made of cotton, they are made of cellulose acetate tow, which is a form of plastic, and they can take decades to degrade. Investigators in a San Diego State University study once discovered that if you put fathead minnows and top smelt in a liter of water that also contains a single cigarette butt, half of the fish will die.
Our group still does a yearly cigarette butt pick up in the international district in Seattle. Any butts we collect are sent to TerraCycle to be recycled into plastic pallets and other plastic products. Sending them to TerraCycle keeps the butts out of the landfill and the water. It also keeps them out of the stomachs of birds, fish and other animals. Our group has sent 341,224 cigarette butts to TerraCycle.
Al has been part of the Litter Project since it began. In the early days, he and I would meet near his International District apartment and pick up litter on weekends. He would also participate in the bigger work parties.
In the early days, our group counted the butts, but we stopped doing that when we started sending them to TerraCycle. TerraCycle uses a formula based on weight to determine the numbers of butts we sent them. In the first photo below, Al and I were counting the butts at the end of a work party.
Al is also known for feeding the birds in his neighborhood, including the crows. That brings me to the reason for writing this post. I saw this intriguing video the other day and thought this kind of crow training might be a natural fit as a volunteer job for you Al. 😉
These crows were picking up both litter and cigarette butts. A longer version of the video commented that people shouldn’t try it on their own, the crows should be trained by an experienced trainer. So maybe it isn’t your job of the future Al, but it is an intriguing idea!
(In writing this, I wondered if holding the butts in their beaks could harm the crows. I hope not.)