Some people love looking through things left in the closet from years before. Many of us have a terribly hard time throwing those things away. And if by chance the object has upon it the handiwork of a long-deceased relative, letting go of it would be nearly impossible.
Looking through such a closet, my aunt and I came across a cache of old bedlinens left by her grandmother. Among them we found a pillowcase and a single-bed sheet finished with a style of embroidery called open work. The pattern is completed with short, tight stitches around an area that is later removed, giving the piece a look of intricate lace. I was pleased to find these lovely items and expressed my excitement.
My aunt, however, was more reserved: “Yes, her work is good, but I wish she’d used better material.” She understood the quality of the fabric was below the finest by several degrees. My aunt would have tossed them both into the rag bin. She was probably right, but I begged her to let me keep them.
The phrasing of “better material” struck me as significant. We all know these refrigerator magnet encouragements: “Be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet” and “God doesn’t make junk”: signs better written on the heart than anywhere else. Taking the pillowcase to use as part of a lesson led to unexpected observations. I wanted to talk to the women about being something with which God could work. One woman asked if she might make it into a rag doll. I went through the meaning of the lesson, briefly, to make sure she had understood. She had, or at least convinced me that she had, and I agreed to the project. A doll would be easier to look at than a pillowcase, we decided. She was correct. The story can be shared just as easily with an attractive object as with a crude one. The doll turned out well and was easier to prop up than a pillowcase. In fact, it was probably a better lesson.
Last week, I kept hearing about the centrality of the Golden Rule. Wikipedia has an article on it, of course, reflecting what we all probably know anyway: All ethical traditions include the idea that we should (yes, I know) treat others like we want to be treated.
A friend just released a book of poetry called “Relationship Determines Decision.” Just released by Shanti Arts Publishing, it includes discussions of our relationships with the earth, with others, and with ourselves. Full disclosure: My blurb on the back suggests that reading them will bring joy, which I found to be true. In his author’s signature to me, Peter writes that he has cherished my “sense of irony and sarcasm for years.” And I do try to be nice.
The eponymous poem from the collection recounts the story of a long walk during which a young dog comes along for many miles. Finally, however, Peter realizes that he cannot reason with, explain, or rationalize a decision because the dog is, after all, a dog. It is relationship that determines what happens. The dog enters another dog’s territory and doesn’t return. We aren’t told what to think about all of this. We find the poet alone again.
Last year when I wrote about a potential Bernie Sanders run, advising him not to do it, I neglected to send the piece to the Democrats. My conclusion then: we are not as good a people as we would need to be in order to enact all his programs. I think this still holds true.
The Golden Rule hasn’t transformed the world as a whole, though on the individual level it surely helps. Its parallel—WWJD?—now has been answered with HWLF (He would love first.) It’s a website, a dotcom, of course, where you may buy products. It is human nature to do that which benefits ourselves first. Peter fed the dog and thought that act might affect its behavior. It didn’t. We can feed the world, and we do pretty well. We can do more. We probably should. We will not do it if forced.
Vast amounts more need to be written on this topic, of course, but I will predict that if Sanders secures the nomination, he will lose the election—not because we aren’t made of good enough material but because we understand that having the government run everything won’t work. That’s facile and shallow. I won’t say more now. I’ll let the prediction stand.