There is a shop near my apartment which is full of old, found things. The owner has collected them over many years from many different places. Walking into her store leaves you with a feeling similar to when you’re walking slowly down a quiet stretch of beach and stumble upon an isolated patch of strewn seashells. At first glance, there is an overwhelming amount, so many that you cannot focus on any in particular, but the whole picture promises that your hunt will be rewarded with something fantastic. I love to lose track of time, silent, poring over such piles of seashells, sifting through them, each discovery of a perfectly formed spiral more precious than something golden.
I get lost in her shop in a similar fashion, poring over the shelves in silence. You know what you’re looking for when you see it, I tend to think. (Most recently I walked home with a wine opener which says Republic of Texas on it. Irresistible.) I was there the other night looking at an old dartboard which I always admire when I visit. The owner knows this, and she said that she wanted to show me something. She went to a big cabinet and began to rearrange piles of knickknacks covering a small drawer-case placed inside. She told me she’d never seen anything like what she was digging out, and wanted to see if it was new to me as well. After several minutes of shuffling things around, she opening the drawer and pulled out a hard leather case, holding it up excitedly. I realized it which was a holster for darts! You put darts inside like little swords, and the feather parts, the flights, stay perfectly intact; usually you have to squish them flat to fit them into cases. All you had to do was grab these out of the sheath and they were ready to go, like fast-food ninja stars! I marveled. She was happy. Behind her desk she has a case of things which are for display only, her favorite things, not for sale. This holster had no price, was obviously not on display to be sold, and I remarked that this should be one of those things behind her counter. She said no, it was something she found which she was hanging onto until the right person came in. She has loads of things like that… things she found the beauty in, which she knows someone particular will treasure when, years later, they enter and find them. These things aren’t for sale, they’re on layaway. Such treasures are patient, waiting in a field of other faultless seashells; they know for whom they’re intended when they meet him or her, and they know that there is a purpose in the waiting.
I think there is something very beautiful in that, the idea of small artifacts awaiting that person in whose eyes, through whose view, they will become a beautiful treasure, realize that beauty for which they are designed. I was thinking about that idea a lot a couple months ago, examined it in a few precious conversations, and to have it so blatantly referenced and confirmed in a real conversation was fantastic. Like knowing the verdict before you see Exhibit A.. it’s reassuring to see evidence of something you hoped was true (or something you hope still is true), especially just a little while after the fact.
(Maybe we’re a field of strewn, even discarded, shells; chipped, faded by the sun, all seemingly lost. But like the wisp of a melody which a master musician can catch from a summer breeze and transform into a transcendent chorus, we too, the lost, have been found and are being crafted into a beautiful song, treasured for the beauty in whose image we were designed, baptizing the old into the new, eyes and ears opened to the melody set deep in our hearts..)