Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Fragrance of Sweet-grass

Captain Jim had come up that afternoon to bring Anne a load of shells for her garden, and a little bunch of sweet-grass which he had found in a ramble over the sand dunes.

"It's getting real scarce along this shore now," he said. "When I was a boy there was a-plenty of it. But now it's only once in a while you'll find a plot--and never when you're looking for it. You jest have to stumble on it--you're walking along on the sand hills, never thinking of sweet-grass--and all at once the air is full of sweetness-- and there's the grass under your feet. I favor the smell of sweet-grass. It always makes me think of my mother."

"She was fond of it?" asked Anne.

"Not that I knows on. Dunno's she ever saw any sweet-grass. No, it's because it has a kind of motherly perfume--not too young, you understand--something kind of seasoned and wholesome and dependable--jest like a mother. The schoolmaster's bride always kept it among her handkerchiefs. You might put that little bunch among yours, Mistress Blythe. I don't like these boughten scents-- but a whiff of sweet-grass belongs anywhere a lady does."

-Anne's House of Dreams, by L.M. Montgomery

Sweet-grass... it's getting scarce, you can't find it when you're looking for it, you just stumble across it never thinking of it, and all at once, the air is filled with sweetness.

I think lessons in life are much like sweet-grass. They don't just happen every day. You can't seek them out. You just go on living your life, and every now and then you stumble across them. They change your life and once the lesson is learned and applied, they can fill your life with sweetness.

Seasoned, wholesome, dependable, ladylike... qualities that those life lessons produce as a girl matures into a woman, and then continues to mature into a true lady.

I'd like to share one of my own lessons in life this morning, a fragrance of sweet-grass that is helping me to grow in the department of relationships.

A dear friend, also fond of author L.M. Montgomery from whose book came the preceding quotation, once gave me a basket made of sweet-grass. I wish that I could put the basket up to the screen and let you take a whiff of its sweet fragrance. She must have searched the entire province of Nova Scotia to find the little basket, and the fragrance of sweet-grass reminds me of her, and the lesson I learned through her.

I lost touch with this friend several years ago. It was understandable; our friendship was sustained primarily through the computer and she became so ill that she was unable to sit up to be on the computer anymore. I called a couple of times. But I could have done so more often, and should have. But life is so busy, you know? My time was so filled with so many other things, that taking a few minutes here and there to give her a call just didn't happen.

My friend lives in heaven now, and there are no more chances to make up for that lost time. All the months and years I could have called her and didn't, all the conversations, the tears, and the laughter we could have shared, but didn't, those are all missed opportunities now. I can never talk with her or share with her again in this life. And I miss her, and regret that I didn't spend the time with her when I could have.

The fragrance of sweet-grass reminds me that this life is short, and we can't take much with us. One thing we can take with us, however, is people, and that realization has caused me to make relationships with others a high priority. So what if I'm busy with something when a friend calls or writes? The friend has priority, because the friendship is lasting. The friendship will exist in heaven, assuming that person is going to heaven, and if they aren't, I had better make it a priority to try to change that!

This applies not only to neglect, but especially to arguments. Obviously, disagreements will occur from time to time in any close relationship, and are sometimes necessary. But contention that drives apart friends and destroys relationships, holding onto anger and bitterness, holding a grudge over a past hurt, intentional or not -- life is simply too short to ruin friendships with those things. How much better to simply forgive, let go of the negatives, and preserve or restore the relationship.

Not to say that I've achieved all of this -- no, I'm very much a work in progress. But I've made progress, and it is my goal to press on until this lesson is complete in my life.

Someday, when I see my friend again in that beautiful land where the ugly things of this life can exist no more, I must thank her for helping me realize this at such a young age, when I most likely still have decades ahead of me to prioritize people. And that life lesson is what I remember when I think of my friend, or when I smell the fragrance of sweet-grass.


Ora said...
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MaryEv said...

You wrote:
A dear friend,... once gave me a basket made of sweet-grass. I wish that I could put the basket up to the screen and let you take a whiff of its sweet fragrance.

No need to do that in my case, since I have an identical basket on my LMM bookcase as well, and it's very precious to me also, since it was a gift from our dear friend.
I remember her telling us about her adventure in purchasing them. She had to drive about 100 miles, to an Indian village where the women made and sold them. When we felt badly that she had to travel so far just for that, she assured us that she enjoyed her day, it was such a beautiful day for a drive.

I think she knew what the valuable things in life were for sure. I will always remember and miss her too. Our lives were richer for having had her friendship. I am glad it's one of the many things we share.

A Dusty Frame said...

What a sweet "meaning behind the name"
And here I was assuming it was from Little House and I'm the big Anne fan:)!