As I approached my fiftieth birthday, a lovely minister friend of mine reminded me that Biblically every 50 years, fields lie fallow, debts are forgiven, and there are parties all year. I loved that. I had already set a goal for myself at age 49 to get my family house in the shape I would like to live with for the next 25 years of my living here, and not wait till I was ready to move out to do nice things. It was helpful to have time to think ahead, and I did do a good amount of cleaning up, repainting, fixing things, and buying a few new things (stained glass lamps, a comfy loveseat, etc.). I had planned to have the house ready for a Jubilee on my birthday, a party with music and dancing and all my favorite people. But the world had other plans.
My birthday was right as the ground shifted underneath everyone (except for Washington State, who had already gotten the preview). So no party. But I could not have done better work to make my home, if not magazine ready, a place I am very happy to be in. I think of myself as someone who does appreciate the small beauties of daily life. My show last year was Daily Pleasures, a still life show of tea things and farmers market bounty. But I also know that I have a tendency to be rushing out of town on a regular and frequent basis. It seems that this year I am getting a master class in the Jubilee of daily life.
Instead of the dance weekends, adventures, and new places I had planned, I am walking every day in the forest. I am home to see the bulbs give way to the wildflowers and the wildflowers give way to the blooming trees. I am sitting nightly with my dog. I am chatting with neighbors (from a good distance away), tracking the sunbeams' journey through my house, reveling in my newly blue-green bedroom, knitting, reading books, and drinking tea. I know there will be hard times to come, but there is great beauty to be found in the every day. So instead of thinking of my jubilee as being postponed, I am thinking of it as unexpected but still beautiful.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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