Three pear-shaped candles line up, centered, on the long dining table this morning. They are stunningly simple. I bought them yesterday for 75 cents each at the Family Services thrift store in Billings, and they are beautiful. Perfect. I wasn’t looking for three pear-shaped candles, but there they were, in the bottom of a box still being sorted and shelved. I love shopping among the hand-me-down, cast-off excesses of our current culture. The stores are filled with rejected items that have learned a new, humble language. I speak rejection-redemption fluently. These pears found me, reached up through the plastic plates and chipped cups, and spoke quietly of their unique potential–their desire to live, one more time, in a place of recognition and service.
Now they sit centered in their own reflections on the shiny table, pastel shades of lemon yellow, barn red, and sage green. I offer thanks for the celestial river in which I float, letting the currents take me hither and yon. I’m especially grateful for the little tributary that took me to these pears yesterday. Less so for last evening, when I dumped back into the mainstream, watching a crime show that featured the agonizing torture of a female prison inmate.
The prison guard’s sadism, the cellmate’s betrayal. Too real. I wish I hadn’t watched. I know too many stories, too many real inmates, too many guards. I try to refocus on the pears. But the magic is gone.
“What?” I say, petulantly, to the open room. I stick my wounded thumb in my mouth, hoping the saliva will hasten the healing. I’m curled on the couch, growing a little agitated as I remember the awful drama.
“I speak rejection-redemption fluently, too,” replies the open room, also known as Allah, God, Creator, Author, Redeemer, Devi, Vishnu, Yahweh, maybe even Buddha. Right now, I prefer Open Room. I answer quickly. “Inmates aren’t pear-shaped candles. I do not, I repeat, do not, want them at my dining table.”
“Okay,” says Open Room. “Who’ll we invite instead?”
“Safe, nice, pretty people,” I say, mocking myself.
“Should they look like you?” Open Room asks, as if offering a compliment.
“You got it. And not too many, either. And not too often.”
“Okay,” says Open Room. “Your loss.”
Ah, that stings. I pull my thumb out of my mouth.
Open Room looks on sympathetically. My thumb is still ugly, but healing nicely from a recent power drill accident. We sit in the warmth of the fire, looking out the window at the day made crystal clear by the rain that fell all night.