Tucked into my pocket on my way across the Atlantic earlier this week was a 2x5 inch piece of wallpaper from the dining room of my childhood home. I had found it in the bottom of my mother's old sewing box. I was so delighted to find this small scrap because I love this wallpaper for purely sentimental reasons: it is the wallpaper that framed my childhood. Like the many knitted blankets I have knitted by my mother's hands, this wallpaper comforts me. Sure, I love the colours, but I would never choose this design for my own home. Even though the blues and greens swirl in flowery patterns, they always have reminded me more of the watery sea. The colours inspire the feeling that shapes my memory.
I used to think that being a spiritual person meant purging my life of the material world, but I now think quite the opposite. Small objects, like a scrap of wallpaper from my childhood home or a tablecloth that decorated our family table on special occasions, point to the sacred. These material objects help me see what my parents were trying to do all those years ago: create moments, cherish each other, laugh and love. They were trying to fill our lives with those sacred elements. I recognize this because I attempt to create a similar space with my children today. And I know that at our table our perfect moments hold imperfection. Where love and joy linger, anger and jealousy and disappointment might be just below the surface. Home is like that. Family is like that. Human relationships are like that.
So, while this tiny piece of wallpaper reminds me of all that is good from my childhood, it humbles me. I see this constant striving of humanity for something more meaningful to surround us and our daily interactions with one another.