Coins And Rosemary (The Stories We Can Tell)

My clothes drier had been making a dreadful racket of late.

“You need to clean the filter. And your clothes will dry faster then too.”

My friend was right. But I don’t like the bother of cleaning the filter, so I waited another day. And when I eventually cleaned the filter, I discovered four pound coins and a little 5p. All dusty and covered with wet fluff. But still worth the grand total of £4.05.

I could write a whole blog about that. About how our value is our value irrespective of what we look like, or even feel like. But that would be predictable, and maybe a little bit boring, and definitely, very safe. (I know, because we used similar lessons to teach children they were valuable no matter how they felt back in South Africa.)

But then yesterday, I bought a rosemary tree. I’m used to rosemary bushes, but this had definitely been trimmed and cajoled into a tree-resembling state. I didn’t go looking for it (I have a reputation when it comes to plants, and for good reason). I was looking for avocado pears in the supermarket, when the scent of the rosemary caught the back of my throat. I remembered the house I grew up in, and the smell of rosemary outside our front door after a thunderstorm. The sky would be blue, the light would be that strange pearly kind, you could still smell the ozone in the air, and the raindrops on the rosemary clung like fragile diamonds, hoping for one last second of life. And standing there, in the supermarket, I couldn’t stop myself from putting the rosemary in my trolley.

I could write a blog about that too – about how we build upon our younger selves, but that does not define our destiny. How even when we think we have forgotten the beautiful in life, there is a part of us that still remembers. About finding blessing in the scary places – like thunderstorms and strange countries. Or about the stories only I can tell.

See, anybody can tell a story about all coins being valuable – that’s what makes the story safe. Not everyone can tell the story of the rosemary in the supermarket echoing a thunderstorm from twenty years ago. That story is less safe. And that somehow makes the story more true – more real, more understandable, maybe even more relevant. (Or maybe that’s just me.)

We all get to choose the stories that we tell in, and through, our lives. We don’t just tell the stories of our lives – the things that have happened to us, or our responses to our environment – but we also tell stories from within us – hopes, dreams, lessons, imaginations. Stories only we can tell. There are many people who can tell you who I am, and the story of my life can be found in a thousand official documents. But there are stories only I can tell.

The question is – will I be brave enough to tell them? Will you?

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