On my daily walk along Portland’s Eastern Promenade, I see people running with their dogs on East End Beach, throwing sticks in the water or across the sand which the frisky pups chase and retrieve. I pass other walkers, runners, bikers, photographers, men, women and children enjoying the wide-open view, each other and the panoramic sky. We wave our arms in giant circles, point to Maine’s big beauty and say, “Isn’t this spectacular?” The view and energy there are vast.
And so, I walk, look up, look out, and often miss small things. One of my walking pals stops to snap photos of patterns in tiny squares of mud, or two small twigs intertwined. Not me. My eyes scan the horizon. But one day as my gaze lifted to glance through trees to the distant islands, I spotted a translucent plastic ball, its two halves snapped together, decorated with a silver ribbon, and hung like a Christmas ornament from a wispy branch. It sparkled in the early morning light. I walked to it, peeked inside and read several messages in black ink on a piece of unlined white paper. “May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be well. May you be open. You are loved. You are love. You belong. Xo.” More blessings hid inside three folds but I did not want to pop open the lovely ball nor ruin this benevolence. So, I didn’t touch it.
I wondered about the intentions of the writer-giver. Do we take this delightful gift? Or does this special love note go to a special person? I did not know what to do. I inhaled to breathe in its charm, and thought that perhaps the writer had found some peace in these not-so-peaceful times and then crafted an offering, a piece of that peace, to whomever might need it. Was it for whoever found it, like a note in a bottle? I took a picture of it and walked on, grinning with the inner smile it evoked in me. Then I texted the picture and a few words of explanation to friends. One said, “It was meant for anyone. You should’ve taken it.”
The next few days on my walks, I searched for it, tried to drag my pals from the enormous breadth of the Prom to that small tree, that thin branch. “It’s like a teeny morsel of nourishment for the spirit, for the soul,” I told them. But we did not see it.
Alone a few days later, I found it. I gently unwrapped the gold wire which attached the ornament to the bough, tucked the prize into my pocket and stepped lightly, protecting this unique treasure. Later I showed it to many people. One person smiled, nodded and said, “this was definitely meant for you.”
Another swooned, “Ohhhh, awwww, soooo sweet!”
Another asked, “What are you going to do with it?”
I said “It’s not mine. I’ll return it, spread the love.”
Before I did, I showed the enchanting ball to yet another friend, he took a picture of it and said, “I’m going to post this on Instagram with these words, ‘I love living in a place where someone bothers to create an ornament like this and to leave it along a walking trial. And where more than one walker picks it up, reads it and puts it back.’”
Me too. One person can make a difference, this time on plain paper in a small ball with lots of not-so-plain and not-so-small wishes for all of us.