Ugly Cabbage Bowl

I’d packed soup for lunch but forgotten a spoon. Again. Packing lunch AND the silverware to eat it with eludes me utterly.

So I walked next door to the thrift store with a pocket full of dimes in search of a used fork and spoon.

The one-block walk to the thrift store turned out to be a good choice, sometimes you can get so cooped up in your office that you forget there’s a whole other world going on outside, one with sun and weather.

I hurried inside to the housewares and kitchen section and was soon rummaging through caddied of donated, hodgepodge silverware.

As I looked over my shoulder I could hear two silver haired women with perms speaking to each other loudly, through heavy dutch accents and hearing aids, about the finer points of used tupperware.

There was something about those two old women in the kitchen section of the thrift store that made me smile.  

I think we all start out on our high horses and end up completely happy with an old friend in a thrift store. That’s grace, and it smells a little musty.

Did they set out good with thrifted housewares or did they pick up the habit along the way, after life mandated that pricey, new bakeware was out of the question?

When we were newly married I was fanatical about tableware, everything had to match and I found plastic cups tacky.

I was snobby about thread counts and towels.

I had a clear vision of how things were supposed to be in a marriage and a family.

My current reality looks nothing that.

The factory that produced our Crate and Barrel dishes burned down, before we could complete our set.  And our fancy square drinking glasses went the way of the garbage as well, because they didn’t hold up in a sink full of dirty dishes.

So much of what I thought mattered went the way of the trash can, piece by piece and year by year.


Now when I go for water, I ignore the sparkling clean glasses and head for the plastic mugs with the handles, because they hold more and don’t condensate.

I haunt thrift stores, looking for old furniture, funky home decor and used clothing.

And I have a ridiculously ugly cabbage bowl on display in our dining area, mostly for irony but also for personal reasons.

I thought that those things mattered and that they were the reasons my family would feel safe and loved in your home.

Turns out it’s night and day.  Babies don’t care about nursery decor and husbands don’t care if their fork matches their spoon.

Turns out that your people are far more interested in your ability to love well, to be tender to their pain and to encourage them even when you don’t feel like it.

They’re far more interested in the state of your heart than the state of your kitchen.

But it’s so much easier to throw ourself into the easy surface work than to keep delving into the hard work of soul health.

It’s easier to cultivate muffins and clean sinks than it is to learn about real, lasting Joy.

But I want to laugh in an ugly sweater when I’m 80 over tupperware and used cookie sheets.

So my only choice is to keep showing up before a God who loves me in spite of my many chips and cracks rely on him as I’m remade and patched up, ugly beautiful all over again.

In many ways I’m an ugly cabbage bowl, loved, cherished and enjoyed whether I deserve it or not.