• joverdis

Love As Taught By A Rag Rug

Inspired by a book on Feng Shui, I picked up my filing cabinet one summer day to move it to a more auspicious location. My yoga-strong body was up to the task but the poorly constructed filing cabinet was not. A piece broke off and the whole thing landed on the outermost bone of my left big toe. Crushed it. One little bone transformed instantaneously into a million smithereens.

It's surprising how reliant my creative life had been on that one small bone. Unable to paint with drippy inks, I needed a creative project that would accommodate my new sedentary lifestyle. This need aligned with a strong desire to acquire a large rug, a lack of funds for such a purchase, and serendipitous timing for getting rid of a bunch of old clothes. I was stuck on the couch and couldn't drop off the clothes at the thrift store, so I cut them up and began braiding and sewing them together instead. As I sewed for the first time in many years, I thought about my early experiences with sewing. I thought about my family. I thought about what it means to love.

I had no plan for the rug but it told me what to do as I went along. It began with a dizzying dark-and-light spiral that needed softening, so I worked shades of gray into the mix as I went outward. Flecks of color began to emerge in the outer layers.

As I added to the rug, I began to see my own black-and-white thinking about people I love. I saw the dissolution of that black-and-white into shades of gray and facets of color, reminding me that the more deeply I seek to understand another person, the more layers of that person I can perceive. They stop being all one thing or another. I can't continue to stereotype them. I begin to identify more beautiful shades and colors of their being. I can recognize more of the whole truth of this person.

I realized I can love and value others more deeply when I listen and try to understand them rather than assuming I know who they are and why they think what they do.

This rug taught me that in order to love someone, I have to love the whole person. All of them. I can't just love the things I like about them. I have to love their flaws too. I have to accept them in the context of all the ways they have and still could disappoint me.

I can love myself this way too. If I acknowledge the totality of my individuality and my humanity, and accept that I am both remarkably wonderful and that I will sometimes disappoint myself, I can see others with that kind of compassion, too. Now I'm striving to find the grace to let go of judgment so that I can more fully experience and extend the kind of love I want to receive.

A lot of bleeding and pain occurred when the filing cabinet landed on my toe. In the moments while I was waiting for help to arrive, I tried to handle the situation the best I could, using mindfulness as my therapist taught me. I focused on projecting gratefulness out into the future for whatever good things were coming down the pike as a result of this injury.

As I expected, my gratitude was warranted. One of those good things was this rug, the wisdom it shared with me as I created it, and the heart-healing that simultaneously occurred while a million slivers of bone slowly, magically, fused themselves back together.