Beautiful Vessels

It’s been more than a decade since my mother gave me a crystal creamer and sugar bowl set. It’s been so long now that I don’t remember the date. But I do remember how excited I was to receive it, as well as the general timeframe when I broke the creamer—around four years after she died.

I was so disappointed. It had been elegant and beautiful, and still a fresh reminder of my mother’s love for me. Now half the set was missing. It was another incident that exemplified the growing distance between my current life and my life when my mother was alive. I’ve always been on the sentimental side, but after Mom died, I hung on to every little thing I had that was hers or that she gave me. Each time one of those things ran out (like tea), wore out (like a particularly neat tea infuser she gave me), or broke (like the crystal creamer), I lost another link between me and my mother.

But a couple of weekends ago, on the eve of the nine-year anniversary of my mother’s death, something uniquely and unpredictably lovely occurred. I was browsing at an estate sale for a special elderly couple in our church who had moved to an assisted living unit. It was an emotional experience to walk into their house; my husband and I had just been there in December, sharing cake and coffee around their table. Now the table was gone, and many of their earthly goods were laid out for strangers—or friends—to buy.

After spending an inordinate amount of time looking through old books, I walked to a table filled with dishes. There, sparkling under the window was the creamer that matched my crystal sugar bowl.

I was overjoyed. My crystal set would be complete once again—this time with the added link of relationship to another beautiful woman, another vessel of God’s goodness in my life. Now I had two shimmering gifts from mothers whose daughters had to let go of them in some way, who could only pick a few of their treasures to keep. Two graceful reminders that God always brings gain from loss, and that His presence always fills us in the letting go and pouring out of our hearts and lives to Him.

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