What really matters? My list would include, in no particular order: love, kindness, generosity, family, friends, principles, humanity, nature, the environment, animals, beauty, creativity, art, democracy, history, ideas, intelligence, humor, spirituality, learning, fully living, reflecting God. More could be added. Make your own list. Appreciating what matters matters.
Things themselves matter. Trinkets, treasures, items that represent meaning or beauty matter. Perhaps an art work or a lovely piece of china that reminds you of who gave it to you or where you got it. Maybe a faded post card from your first trip to France becomes a bookmark for your current read. Maybe the red Depression glass you inherited from your mom, that you use every Christmas, rather than hidden away, now sits on a glass shelf year-round catching afternoon sunlight. Maybe a favorite childhood doll, toy train, book, or music box perches in an unexpected spot that makes you smile when you pass by. Maybe your desktop holds a precious photo, taken decades ago, of your kids when they were young.
In cleaning things up the other day, I looked in numerous little boxes that crowd my dresser top, each filled with earrings, pins, and jewelry, some inherited, some rarely worn. Among them are gold charm bracelets. Do you remember those from the 1950s, 60s, 70s? Popular among women and girls of that era,14-karat gold charms, representing a meaningful event, place, or person were added to the gold link bracelets over years.
I have four charm bracelets from those decades. One is from my travels to Greece, France, Portugal, Italy, England, Switzerland, and Hawaii. The charms are of a rooster (Portugal), the Vapheio cup (an ancient Mycenaean cup found in a 1500 BC tomb–the original I’d seen in the National Archeological Museum in Athens), a cuckcoo clock (Switzerland), an Atlantic ship ( my means of traveling abroad), a stately seated lion (symbol of Venice, Italy), a French Cathedral rose window in enamel and gold (representing Chartres and the other French cathedrals I visited), a bowler hat with umbrella (England), a gold filigree pineapple with a pearl inside (Hawaii). Another bracelet holds my teeny gold baby ring, my National Honor Society pin mounted on a gold disc, my mom’s sorority pin mounted on another disc, a college charm, a daisy representing my dorm, my dad’s gold football from playing in high school (he was Captain of his team all four years), and two charms representing each of my sons. I moved these last two charms to the travel bracelet so I could wear them all on one bracelet.
The other two bracelets were my mom’s. I’d given her a gold link bracelet for Christmas one year, adding a charm to represent each of her grandsons as they were born, and later, a little gold heart symbolizing my daughter, plus a cloisonne and gold locket that opens up for three photos. The fourth in my collection, is the heavy gold link bracelet Mom purchased for herself with a world locket which opens up for photos.
I’m not a “jewelry person”, aside from a couple of rings and arty earrings. I can’t see myself wearing charm bracelets today. Nor my daughter nor two granddaughters. But keeping beautiful, meaningful things hidden in a box or drawer is not my idea of appreciating them. I try to put to use every beautiful thing I own. My life and memories are reflected in beautiful things. Not merely material, beautiful things express ideas, color, form, feelings, memories. They matter. Even decades-old charm bracelets. I’ll find a place and purpose for them today.
I recently read a concept new to me in a book by Barbara Brown Taylor: “Matter matters to God.” I think I understand.
Artwork: Monet’s House at Giverny, framed oil, approx. 20″ x 15″ sold. This painting took first prize in a show and was purchased by a French company. This was painted on my third trip to France, a place I never tire of painting.