On the drive home from preschool, my 3 year old daughter handed my husband her latest art project: "Look, Dad, it's a cornucopia!" The brown construction paper horn was adorned with several kinds of fruits and vegetables she had carefully colored and glued onto it. Daddy had just started telling her how nice it was, but she could contain herself no more and excitedly burst forth: "Dad! A cornucopia is a horn-shaped basket that the Indians weaved and they used it to carry lots and lots of vegetables and fruits." She took a breath and continued in a more knowing tone. "The Indians didn't have those big old Wal Mart bags to carry their groceries in , Daddy." My poor husband nearly drove off the road. Tears of mirth ran down our faces and we both shook with silent laughter. After a few minutes we had recovered enough to reassure her that she was absolutely correct.
The next day she and I were hanging her cornucopia up on the kitchen door. "Mommy," she said wistfully, "I wish everybody had cornucopia baskets to carry their groceries. I don't like Wal Mart bags." I agreed wholeheartedly, and my thoughts drifted to sustainability. Many times a day, everything within me yearns to go back to a simpler time and way of life. I'm sure the Indians had a basket more practically-shaped than a cornucopia for carrying food from the fields to storage, but they first had to weave that basket. It would have been a masterful piece of functional art that endured for years. The convenience of that basket would have been appreciated all the more by its user for the labor and creativity that went into its making.
To me, living simply and frugally does not equal drab misery. It is an opportunity to express my creativity in all aspects of life--an exercise resulting in beautiful, unique objects that grant many years of aesthetic pleasure and personal satisfaction in the course of service. This thought makes me smile almost as widely as my daughter's innocent humor.
Not three days ago I was feeling overwhelmed and pressured by the demands of the world. After having a good cry and venting some frustration, I still didn't feel entirely better. After this conversation with my daughter, however, all seems to have fallen back into place for me. Just because my home and my life are assaulted by a barrage of demands doesn't necessarily mean that those demands are relevant, or that they have a place in my realm. I can simply and painlessly say "no" to so many of them, freeing myself to be mindfully, creatively, joyfully present in the here and now to meet those that are appropriate and relevant.
And a little child shall lead them...
Stress has been replaced with gratitude, and there is much for which I am thankful. With every silent "thank you" I breathe toward the heavens, life glows brighter and richer and more precious.
"Every time we say "thank you", we experience
nothing less than heaven on earth"
~Sarah ban Breathnach