From ‘My Several Worlds’
Well, I am back from my long and unintended hiatus! I had a lovely trip to Italy and have thoroughly enjoyed my summer. When the days grow shorter and the weather turns, I will post some of my favorite pictures of the trip.
In the meantime, I would love to share with you several passages from a book I just finished – My Several Worlds, by Pearl S. Buck. The book is a lovely autobiography after a type. As she states near the beginning, ‘the story is incomplete, and, worse still, that it is told upon different levels and about different places and peoples, the whole held together merely by time . . .’. I found this book utterly beautiful and refreshing. It was one of those lovely reads I wished would never end.
The great beauty of Japan is in the spots that you and I, if we be mere passerby, never really glimpse.
It is the beauty which moves the veriest coolie, after a day of crushing labor, to throw aside his carrying pole, and after a bit of fish and rice, to dig and plant in his garden the size of a pocket handkerchief. There he works, absorbed, delighted; his whole being resting in the joy of creating beauty for himself and his family, who cluster about him to admire. No one is without a garden. If fate has denied a poor man a foot of ground, he buys a big plot for a penny and slowly, after hours of labor pleasant and painstaking, he constructs a miniature park, with a rockery, a tiny summerhouse, a pool, with bits of moss for lawns and grass heads for trees and toy ferns tucked into crevices for shrubbery.
It is the quality of beauty, too, which moves a Japanese host to place in his guest room each day for the delight of his guest one single exquisite note. From his precious store he selects today a watercolor, in black and white, of a bird clinging to a reed, painted with a charming reserve. Tomorrow it will be a dull blue vase with one spray of snowy pear bloom arranged in such a way as to be a living invitation to meditation. Sometimes it is a piece of old tapestry, with a quaint procession of lantern bearers marching across its faded length.
Meanwhile I was also enjoying quite a different sort of life. First of all were my house and garden. Though I can live anywhere, be either rich or poor with equal acceptance, I have to have a setting, and if there is not one, I make it. I subdued, therefore, the too large and somewhat graceless grey brick house where I lived, and within the limits of a small amount of money, I did as my mother had taught me to do and created as much beauty as I could. The garden furnished plenty of flowers, and well-designed furniture of cheap materials could be cushioned with the inexpensive but beautiful chinese stuffs. Wicker and rattan I had wearied of, but the Chinese about that time were weaving cash string, a thin robe made of grass, upon strong bamboo frames, and such chairs were comfortable and substantial. Old chinese blackwood tables could be bought cheaply, and there were always delicate and beautiful bowls and vases in the chinashops. One day in a silkshhop I found yards of faded silk going at a bargain price and I bought it for curtains and dyed it in different colors. Matting rugs upon the floor gave good effect and sunshine and flowers did the rest. I enjoyed the whole process and have often thought to myself that if I had not wanted to write books above all else, I would be a cook in a big family, perhaps in an orphanage, and make delicious dishes for everybody. But there are many persons I would like to have been – for example, again, a sculptor – had I not wanted to write books.
These passages are just a selection among the many I found refreshing and inspiring. They slightly readjusted my vision for a beautiful, peaceful, and God honoring home.