I knew I’d be frustrated and challenged embroidering the Mayr Corbet “The Leafy Tree” kit. I ordered it anyway. And when I saw the printed pattern was only 5″ tall, I knew I should just mail it back. Mary had said: this kit is not for beginners. But I haven’t been a beginning embroider since I was 7 years old when I won a prize for my satin stitch. So I decided to keep it, and traced the pattern at 150%, thinking that would let my glaucoma’d eyes navigate the fine outline.
Then I noticed that while all the other stitchers in the FaceBook group were showing off their handiwork, with their tree trunks nicely outlined, I had not begun. I was only admiring the colors of the thread packets, and fretting about all the stitches I hadn’t ever mastered. I decided my tree would likely look like…something a 7 year old could manage. So I haven’t begun The Leafy Tree. But I sure do admire those colors and the pretty circle shape of the tree pattern.
Meanwhile, the other day I participated in a gathering of other spiritual directors to spend a morning in engagement with Death. We explored our individual, tiny losses as ways to prepare, as the Tibetans do, for our own eventual deaths.
The first exercise had us recalling pleasant things we did the day before. And then, imagining that yesterday was the last time, forever. Sitting with the “never-again-ness” was not easy. I imagined my daily morning routine: sitting with a cup of coffee with milk, in the sunshine across my dining table, the dogs sleeping nearby, the house quiet. I love this routine. “Routine” is not a euphemism for “rut.” Routines can be blessed rituals, expressing a basic trust in the day-to-dailiness of our lives. Having a routine creates orderliness, comfort, and a familiarity with oneself and one’s surroundings that gives continuity to our days. It makes us, us.
This morning, while engaging with my coffee I thought, “there will come a time when I can no longer have coffee with these dogs, in this house.” I noticed a mix of sadness, gratitude and appreciation. I’m looking at The Leafy Tree kit with a bit of sadness, realizing the window of good-enough sight has closed. Trying so hard would not be fun, or rewarding, only frustrating and disappointing. It is OK, I decided, to send it back. It’s OK to find a new routine for my creative outlet this coming winter. It is OK to not yet know what that will be.