On the path to publishing Destiny at Dolphin Bay, I recently re-encountered the scene with the broken dishes during the earthquake, along with Melissa’s regret over missing a school drama competition. Her entry, a monologue called “The Blue Cup,” flows from my own extra-curricular accomplishments.
Can anybody help me find “The Blue Cup”? I’ll confess the mystery is gnawing at me. The elusive prize-speaking piece garnered me a medal in the ancient-history days of high school, but do you think I can find this winner now? Nope.
Of course I’ve googled it. I’ve researched till it’s driving me crazy. It’s NOT the 1936 short story by Russian author Arkady Gaidar. It has nothing to do with a Texas coffee shop or soccer championships or Pinterest crafts for smashed china. But I’m pretty sure the English department of my Maine high school excerpted it from some longer work.
The Story Goes…
A woman stews in tight-lipped fury over her maid’s accident with a beautiful porcelain cup (and saucer? a set?) while cleaning in the home. Was it carelessness? Curiosity? Or just one of those fluke slips? Whatever, it makes no difference—the heirloom has shattered into a thousand pieces.
But in her anger and resentment, the woman reminisces about her grandmother, the gracious lady who passed on the blue cup to her. Suddenly, she changes gears. She can no longer respond with anything other than loving compassion. Her grandmother’s precious legacy meant much more than a mere teacup.
The enigmatic sketch touched my own heart before it stirred the judges. My first piece, “Rebecca’s Room,” lifted from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, unnerved me more than inspired me. But still an effective speech. I’ve since heard of passages used from other favorite books such as The Witch of Blackbird Pond and The Hobbit.
Judged on “enunciation, interpretation, memory, and poise,” prize speaking contests used to be an annual spring event in many high schools. A once-time-honored tradition that now seems gone the way of teacup collections and Blue Willow plates—the antiques shop.
As Destiny Deems…
Funny how the past winds around full-circle, no matter how far back. After discussing my Chile settings in last week’s post, I picked up a book about a Maine game warden and was overwhelmed by a tide of homesickness in a way I haven’t felt for years.
I mean a break-down-and-sob job. Crushed and splintered into fragments of a lost identity. Lord help me, I could SMELL those pinecones and fried clams. I could HEAR the loons on the lake and the lash of a summer thunderstorm.
Maine’s become a popular setting for both cozies and thrillers lately. But who knows? Maybe that hit of nostalgia happened because of last week’s holidays, uncelebrated under bleak winter skies here. God bless the USA—and Canada. Sincerely.
Sometimes it’s the littlest things that will draw me home—and knock me prostrate. A blue cup, a whiff of lilac soap, an egg scrambled the way my mother did, a novel unfolding in the woods.
Even the Bible story of the alabaster jar that Melissa reluctantly narrates in Destiny. Or Steve Green’s rendition of “Broken and Spilled Out,” which shares the same tale in song. (That, like prize speaking, surely dates me.)
“…I leave a little piece of my heart everywhere I go and collect the experiences like bangles until I am laden with homesickness and in love with the entire world.” –AdventureInOurTeacups.com
Droplet Gift #23: I’ll pick up all those broken pieces of my heart and give them to God.
When I’m Blue…
The blue cup reminds me that blue is the world’s favorite color (trailed by green) and supposed to kickstart creativity. The color blue pops up so often in my books—in sea, sky, soaring mountains—that I see it’s almost an unconscious thematic element.
Sort of like tea, the beverage Melissa detests in Destiny because of its underlying link to her past. Like an arrow or a compass, tea is a motif of destiny, God’s purpose and providence. Melissa learns that what she believes she’s lost forever, what she’s ruined irreparably, only serves to lead her to God’s perfect plan.
I too feel like I’ve lost something indefinable. That wistful longing for my youth, my home and family, my sense of belonging, surprised me this week. Because I’ve spent my life cracking off shards of myself and scattering them as I roam the world.
Caring can hurt. Duty can drain you. The piled-up responsibilities for the well-being of others often weigh heavy, though you cannot—and would not—drop them or push them away. Unthinkable, because love also compels.
Like Melissa, I’ll either end up crushed under the load of griefs and disappointments…or I must learn to hand over the burden of the universe to the One who is strong enough to carry it. And God grant that the spilled drops of blood…sweat…and tears may mark a path for others to follow.
“Lord, don’t take me home…until I turn all those lost and broken things over to you. When I wander—not if—guide me. When I break, spill me. Then gather me in Your hands, reshape and use me again.”
If you ever find “The Blue Cup,” vanished in the mists of my distant past, please let me know. Along with my heart, I’ve broken so many cups myself that maybe I should head back to Pinterest for the garden-mosaic ideas.