Monday, February 5, 2007

Assembly Line Angel

Recently my wife and I traveled to Savannah for a much-needed weekend getaway without the kids. The historic district was beautiful, the weather was superb, and we were delighted to find several restaurants with delicious vegetarian choices, such as the delightful Firefly Café. It was while walking through a local antiques store near the river that I saw and immediately fell in love with a small cast iron angel statue.

Although I didn’t purchase it at the time, I thought longingly about it that night before going to bed, so the next day I walked back over to Cobblestone Lane Antiques Mall (no website - I checked) and was relieved to find that it was still there, as if waiting for me, wings spread and arms outstretched. It was less than $50, which seemed like a good deal to my untrained eye. My head made up a number of romantic stories about its possible origins. I questioned the woman behind the counter, but she said she didn't know where it came from since it was being sold by a vendor who leased space in the mall and he wasn't there at the time.

I purchased the statue and carefully brought it back to Atlanta and found a spot in my office for it. I’ve enjoyed looking at it during various moments during the day, and find that it gives me comfort during times of stress. I showed it to one of my clients who has done much work with antiques and he said kindly, “I hate to break your bubble, Bill, but that’s not any older than the shirt you’re wearing. That store probably has a warehouse full of them, and as soon as you left they put another one on the shelf in its place.” Of course he was right. I even recently saw the same statue at a local Ace Hardware store, for $20 cheaper!

I found myself having a complex reaction to this news. On the one hand I’m a little embarrassed to think I could find a beautiful antique statue for a song. Would it be nice to think it was 100 years old and salvaged from some church? Sure! And I'm a little chagrined that the person at the store obviously let me go on thinking that I was getting something old and special. Oh well, caveat emptor!

On the other hand I've come to realize that as long as it is special to me then it is special. Period. So what if it's merely an assembly-line angel and not an artifact from some history-dripping locale? It is still able to remind me to stay spiritually centered and that gives it all the meaning I need.

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