It was an elegant and appropriate gift, this tapestry. I first drew it from its wrapping during a brief stop by my cabin to visit friends who were vacationing there. They had presented it to me nestled in billows of tissue paper in a decorative bag.
As I shook it out, I realized it required more than a cursory glance. Laying it gently over the sofa to get the full effect, I was immediately struck by its dramatic beauty. I could tell that my friends were reliving the rapture they'd felt when they'd first come upon it - the perfect gift to offer to the owner of a cabin where the creature on the tapestry, a loon, was guaranteed to appear at some point during one's stay.
I was almost as overwhelmed by this bold sight as they were. Their renewed enthusiasm for their purchase stirred me to eloquent praise of the tapestry's stunning beauty. My expressions of thanks seemed to pale beside the magnitude of this object of our mutual admiration.
There, larger than life (or, lest I be accused of exaggeration, at least as large as life), was a mother loon with wings spread wide and white breast fully exposed. She appeared to be rising from inky blue water. Soft swirls of pink tinted the ripples around her.
I knew she was a mother loon because in the background were two chicks, miniatures of their mom. Their smaller wings were tucked neatly at their sides as they admired their mother's grand display.
The dark, shadowy pine forest, deep lavender mountains, and the sunset's coral sky caught in the water's ripples were reminiscent of the scene from my cabin. Loons were frequent visitors to our small lake.
I left the cabin with my prize, puzzling over where it would show to best advantage. Exposed studs placed equidistant around the cabin's walls precluded hanging it there. It needed to be displayed on a large wall, maybe in a lodge with a cathedral ceiling. That, I didn't own. Upon returning home to our farmhouse, I tried it on the wall in the front room. It completely covered the space between the two windows. It quite overwhelmed the room.
I trusted that my heartfelt thanks written on loon notepaper would confirm that my guests had indeed made a good choice. I didn't confess my uncertainty about what on earth to do with it. But I knew that only when I could assure the givers that a proper display place had been found would the giving be complete.
There the matter rested, together with tapestry, folded and sitting on the cedar chest behind the white screen in the corner of my room. There it awaited a stroke of inspiration as to where to place it. I didn't want to forget it altogether and then come upon it at some future date with the same question niggling at me.
So several days later, I removed it from its obscure hiding place and put it on the creamy bedspread. It covered the guest bed located parallel to the interior wall in my large bedroom. It lay in disarray at the end of the bed, a testament to my effort to create a casual look. Casual it was not. Even my amateur decorator eye could see that.
I was at a loss. So I shared my problem with my sister. "For the loon to show to best advantage," she said, "it really should be laid over the bed this way." We turned it and smoothed it out, and there she was, rising like a phoenix out of the pink encircled indigo waters. The tapestry was far less obtrusive than it would be as a wall hanging, but commanding nonetheless.
"Perfect!" my sister exclaimed. The loon's serenity flowed into the room like the ripples from the lake the bird rested upon. It was a rebuke to the piles of newspapers, periodicals, scrapbooks, unanswered letters, and unread books that adorned the other two-thirds of the area. I lived in this dual environment for three days. On the fourth, I made a sweep of the other two-thirds, removing all the piles and reordering what was left until the peace of the new arrangement centered around the tapestry embraced the whole room.
At the heart of every gift is the immediate pleasure it brings the giver and the recipient. Then comes the extended pleasure when the object finds its place in your home. While not every gift carries with it the capacity to make a startling change, blessed are those gifts that do.
My new tapestry spread on the guest bed, with its loons floating just beyond the cattails, will continue to give its largess of order and tranquillity to my modest domain.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society