My great-grandfather came from Germany and spent the first seven years of his life here as the indentured servant of a Norwegian dairy farmer. He was thirteen years old and spoke neither Norwegian nor English. By all accounts it was a harsh existence, yet he survived and eventually became a prosperous dairy farmer with ten children of his own—the youngest of which was my own beloved grandfather.
What does all this have to do with a bowl filled with gourds?
Well, my great-grandfather made the bowl those gourd are in from the trunk of a butternut tree. And every time I get this bowl out, I think about him and about what truly endures in this life.
Most of us have far too many “things” cluttering our lives. But this bowl that was carved over many a long winter’s night and the story of its creation are an inheritance that I cherish.
I’ve always been the keeper of stories like this.
My parents, both only children, were eager to escape the burden of remembering. Because I was adopted, though, I’ve always been on the lookout for ways to connect and figure out where I belong. To weave myself into the history of life.
So the story of a boy who was dropped into a family not his own and managed not just to survive but to prosper? That’s a story I will never let die. It will be passed on. At least one of my children is bound to be struck by its power and become not just a willing keeper of the bowl, but also the protector of its message.
Quite a slice of immortality for a humble wooden bowl, don’t you think?