Earlier this year, many of us in the equine collectibles industry pulled together to help a dear friend with her husband’s medical bills. The response grew into something way beyond what any of us expected, but while all this love and effort worked to restore our friend’s financial security, it could not conquer such a deadly form of cancer.
This left those with outstanding donations in a quandary. This was especially puzzling when it came to what to do with the outstanding pieces of the Terra Cotta Tile Project. Like many, I still had a handful to glaze and even more left to “festoon“. What was the right thing to do now that they could no longer serve their original purpose? Equally important, what decision might best preserve the value of the pieces in the project which had been sold as collectibles?
Yesterday those of us involved in the project received word that we were to destroy whatever unfinished, unadorned tiles were left in our possession. By the close of the day, I had done exactly that. I knew it would be hard. Destroying handmade items is not something I find easy, but it was all the harder for me because I knew what went into them. Coming from my faith tradition, these tiles were what we would call “widow’s pennies”. That is the parable where Jesus instructs his followers that the penny given by the poor widow is worth more then the entire fortune of a wealthy man. What comes from someone’s bounty is not worth the same as what comes from someone’s poverty. I knew those tiles had been made over long hours by someone who was herself facing horrible financial threats, yet still she was donating her time (and therefor her income) to someone else. It seemed a horrible sin to literally smash all that generosity – all that sacrifice.
But it also made me think about starting over with clean slates. As most of my friends and customers know, I am perpetually overcommitted and almost always falling behind. After losing more time than I expected earlier this year following my surgery, that normal situation has snowballed. This motivated me to set into motion some changes that will allow me a more sane level of responsibilities, but my to-do list is still a discouraging read at the moment. Literally smashing one small commitment was a good reminder for me not to replace the jobs I am finishing with new obligations. I’ve placed the broken heart from one of the tiles on my whiteboard (the one where I write my daily task list) to remind myself how hard this lesson is for me to learn!