It cracked and we both instantly felt afraid.
Straight through the delicate, beautiful, pink flowers was an obvious crack.
Mom!!! Mom, what do I do!? The look in her eyes was sheer panic. I felt it, too.
The heat of shame flushed down my neck as I realized what had just happened. The borrowed tea cup had just cracked!
They had freely given my daughter this precious item to use... but, it had also come with a warning. Be careful! Please be careful, she had said, it is very fragile. She had been careful!! I watched her carefulness. Proud of her, I watched as she heeded the generous warning...
But it didn't matter. This precious piece of history was now leaking tea... it had cracked.
My girl had just needed one more tea cup and saucer for the Christmas tea she was hosting. Last minute, we asked around... neighbors. And, this one was given.
It was 50 years old. Bought on a honeymoon to commemorate a marriage. A precious treasure that was then stored away... hardly ever used. But, freely given. They wanted her to use it.
And, she had been so very careful with it!
But, it clearly cracked and leaked. We both felt afraid and ashamed.
Mom, what do I do!?
In that moment, I calmly advised her to lay it down. She had done her best, I told her. We would deal with the problem after the party.
Lay it down, my sweet girl.
Go enjoy your party. Enjoy your friends. It is not a worry for now. Lay it down.
Sweet girl, they will be graceful.
These last words were spoken with a hopeful prayer behind them. Oh! Father, help them to be graceful!
We hang on so tightly to things, don't we!? We treasure this world and our homes and our bodies. We grasp and we grab and we just tug a bit tightly. Or, at least, I do. When our world and our bodies and our things break---we feel angry, we feel hurt. It hurts when our things crack.
What grief might this cracked-precious-thing bring to my dear friends? The thought made my stomach turn.
The Christmas tea went off without another hitch. The giggling and singing of girl-friends wafted through the house. She had moved on and enjoyed!
But, she hadn't forgotten. After the laughter died down, the games were finished and the party was over, she looked at me again with fear. Go with me, please, Mom! I need you. We walked hand-in-hand. We walked the tiny, delicate, now-damaged memento home to her owners.
Do you know what they said...
The word grace hardly even describes the response. It felt bigger, sweeter, and even more tender than grace.
The minute my sweet girl confessed the crack, those old eyes sparkled and even laughed a bit with light in them, "Oh! Honey! Don't you worry another minute. I am so sorry you were troubled about it at all. Honey, I am going to heaven soon... and I am NOT taking this with me!"
I am not taking this with me!
As we left, I thanked her for her grace. She chuckled out loud this time, "Oh, dear! If I can't give grace at this age, then none of us have hope!"
My girl and I left their home with a lightness in our step and praise on our lips.
I guess we had many lessons to learn that night... a lesson in trying your best and things still cracking! A lesson in letting things go and enjoying a party anyway. I think we had a lesson in prayer and hopeful expectations. And a lesson in repentance and humility. A lesson in the giving and receiving of grace.
Most certainly we both had a lesson in what really matters. In holding a bit less tightly to this world.
A lighter hand. A looser grip.
If it cracks a bit... it really is okay. There is grace for that, too.