I’ve recently gone through a major house move, and now that the essentials have been unpacked, I’m faced with boxes of items that haven’t been looked at or touched for a dozen (or dozens) of years. Marie Kondo’s bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, offered the permission slip I needed to help me let go of many things that no longer brought me joy or had true purpose.
While this book is not a spiritual text, she mentions a practice that I have not seen in any other decluttering/organizing guide: when you decide to discard (or donate) an item, thank it for its service.
Since I love blessings, I latched onto that simple idea, and have been saying many thank-yous and good-byes. I wanted to write a general blessing, but these salt and pepper shakers caught my eye and my heart, and the blessing became specific. Once it was written, I realized the beauty of discarding: nothing, really, is lost.
Dear Little Salt and Pepper Shaker
Thank you for your faithful years
of service on my grandmother’s table
and for wanting to remind me now
of my grandmother and the long train
of holiday tables, fourteen grandchildren
every Easter, every Christmas
eating cappelletti and cannoli
from Union City, where my Italian grandfather
who had died before my birth
But I need no reminder.
Better that I free you
from the quiet corner
of my china closet
and send you to a new home
where your hand-painted pink flowers
might brighten someone’s windowsill.
I wish to be lighter now,
to enjoy the pink and white flowers
in the garden of my heart
where my grandmother
flits in and out of sight
like a butterfly
always a delightful and reassuring presence.