My husband’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when Charles was a teenager. She underwent a radical mastectomy that affected the nerves in her arm and hand and she lost sensation and mobility enough that she was always afraid of using or handling the fine china and crystal stemware she had collected from the time she was a young bride for fear she would break them. When I met her in the late 70’s, one of her only regrets in life was the fact that she had not utilized her fine dishes more.
Today, I began my feeble attempt of spring cleaning (as I do every year), and one of my dreaded chores is pulling all my fine china out of my display cabinet to dust them. Unfortunately I have not taken the advice she gave me those many years ago to use the dishes. “Don’t worry if you break a piece!” she said. “You can replace it, just use them all, because one day when you really might like to have tea in one of those beautiful cups, you won’t be able to…like me.”
After my father-in-law’s passing last year, a few of Laura’s china teacups were passed on to me and as I lovingly but carefully dusted them, I thought about how amazingly durable these “fragile” cups actually were. They had survived numerous trips across Canada. My father-in-law was in the air force so the family had moved many times before settling in Comox. My husband and his brother were known for their rough-housing and that china cabinet had on more than one occasion been bumped into and dishes rattled from boys at play. They had survived yet another move last year, jostled and jolted in the back of a trailer through the Rockies to our home here in Cochrane. Even as I was pondering on that, one of the cups slipped from my hand and bumped on the table. Gasping, I feared the worst, but surprisingly the delicate cup was intact.
It reminded me of my young friend who got a very interesting tattoo many years ago. Not that I’m a fan of tattoos in general, but as she explained why she got a small teacup tattooed onto her hip, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. “The teacup,” she said, “symbolizes “womanhood”…delicate and fragile but also strong and durable.” She wanted to remember throughout her lifetime that she not only wanted to be treated with respect and sensitivity because of her natural feminine nature, but to remember that she had strength and durability to overcome any trials and hardship that may come her way.
My mother-in-law, Laura was the epitome of that analogy. A Proverbs 31 woman in every aspect, she had a delicate nature, yet she had outstanding strength and durability to battle cancer bravely. She led many people to the Lord right up until her passing in 1981. She left a Godly legacy to each one of her three children and her Godly influence continues to impact our family today.
So I am taking a little break right now doing something I have not done in years. I am brewing a pot of tea and I’m using one of Laura’s teacups. It’s about time.
I Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.”
He is the Potter, I am the clay.
“The Parable of the Teacup“.
There was a couple who used to go to shop in beautiful antique stores. One day the woman saw a beautiful china teacup. She picked it up to admire it and was startled when the teacup suddenly spoke to her.
“I see that you admire my fine china quality and rich design.” Notice the intricacy of my pattern, the gentle curve of my handle. I am indeed a treasure but you may not fully understand how I came to be this beautiful teacup.” It said. “I wasn’t always a teacup, in fact there was a time when I was just a red clay ball. My master took me and rolled me and patted me over and over and I yelled out, ‘Let me alone.’ But he only smiled, ‘Not yet.’
“Then I was placed on a spinning wheel,” the teacup said, “and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. ‘Stop it! I’m getting dizzy!’ I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, ‘Not yet.’
“Then he put me in the oven. I’d never felt such heat! I wondered why he wanted to burn me. I yelled! I knocked at the door! I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head, ‘Not yet.’
“Finally the door opened, and he put me on the shelf and I began to cool. ‘Ahhh, that’s better,’ I said. Then he brushed me and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ‘Stop it! Stop it!’ I cried. He only nodded, ‘Not yet.’
“Then suddenly he put me back into the oven, not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. All the time I could see him through the opening saying, ‘Not yet’.
“Then when I thought I knew there wasn’t any hope. I thought I would never make it. I was ready to give up, the door opened and he took me out and placed me on the shelf. One hour later, he held me in his strong hand and he smiled as he handed me a mirror and said, ‘Look at yourself!’ and I did, and I said, ‘That’s not me, that couldn’t be me! It’s beautiful. I’m beautiful!”
“My master held me delicately as he explained, “I know it hurt you to be rolled and patted, but if I just left you as a red clay ball you would have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I know it hurt you and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any colour in your life, and if I hadn’t put you back in that second oven you would not have survived for very long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.”
“Then the master heated a cup of boiling water and put some tea leaves in me, and as he poured boiling water into me, the splendid aroma wafted up to him and he smiled, and I could tell he was well pleased with me.”