Happy 10th birthday Mitchell - my fellow archaeologist.
Mitchell liked to dig in the back yard next to the old fence at Grandma’s house because there was an elevated mound there. Mitchell’s grandma was once an archaeology dig volunteer in Israel and she taught him about finding buried treasure.
“Always look for a rise or elevated mound,” Grandma said. “When the earth is disturbed, it always leaves some kind of evidence.”
When Mitchell took his grandma to the mound by the fence she smiled.
“Good detective work Mitchell,” Grandma said. “That is where my grandma and grandpa used to bury their garbage. Trash heaps contain lots of buried treasure for archaeologists. That is where we make our best discoveries.”
“But garbage isn’t interesting,” Mitchell said. “It’s just trash.”
“Actually,” Grandma said, “garbage contains the hidden story of a past life. Remnants of food like seeds or nuts, bits of old wool clothing, kiln fired dishes, and broken household items can paint an interesting picture and they are all a piece of the puzzle.”
“Why would I want to find old junk?”
“Because that is how we discover how people used to live . . . what they ate, how they dressed, where they worked, what was important to them and how they died. Museums are filled with rich people’s stuff. But garbage dumps tell us how the common man lived.”
“What is a common man?”
“A common man is someone like you and me. Kings, queens have their possessions preserved in museums, but the common man needs someone who will do the work to discover that their lives were interesting enough to study and learn from.”
Mitchell scratched his head and thought a while. Then he started digging. Grandma went back in the house. Before long Mitchell found a broken rusty metal tool. Next he found a broken bowl with a strange symbol in the glaze. Mitchell was intrigued. He walked back to Grandma’s house and asked her about his ancestors who lived on her land before she did. He found out that his great-grandma was a spinner and a weaver. His great-grandpa was a blacksmith.
“They didn’t have stores back then,” Grandma said. “They had to make everything they needed with their own hands.”
Mitchell showed Grandma the broken bowl with a symbol in the glaze.
“Do you know what this symbol means?” Mitchell asked.
“No, I don’t,” Grandma said. “But I have friends at the university I could ask.”
Several weeks later Mitchell went back to his grandma’s house and asked if she knew what the symbol meant. Grandma took the broken bowl from the closet and sat down next to Mitchell.
“I found a professor in ancient languages,” Grandma said. “She told me these symbols mean love in Hebrew.”
“Why would my ancestors put that word in Hebrew on a bowl? I thought they were just farmers.”
“Apparently they were something more,” Grandma said. “The professor said the Hebrew word for love is Ahava which is made of three basic Hebrew letters. Those letters are broken down into two parts: a two letter base or root, and the first letter which is a modifier.”
“That sounds too complicated for me,” Mitchell answered.
“The meaning of the gleph which precedes these two letters modifies the meaning of the base word, “give”. The meaning of these symbols is “I give” and also “love”. Apparently your ancestors knew that love is giving.”
“Farmers have deep thoughts?”
“Yes,” Grandma said. Perhaps the deepest. They are close to the earth and understand the law of the harvest.”
Mitchell scratched his head.
“I’m an old lady now and I know that loving someone gives our lives meaning and purpose. The truest relationships are those where mutual giving takes place. Without mutual giving, a loving relationship won’t last.”
Mitchell picked up the broken bowl with the Hebrew symbols.
‘I wonder how those guys knew the symbols for love in Hebrew and why it was important to them,” Mitchell said.
“One of your great-grandfathers on your grandpa’s side was the man who gave a bag of gold to Orson Hyde so he would have the means to travel to Palestine and dedicate the Holy Land.”
“Really Grandma? I had a rich ancestor.”
“He was rich because he gave his gold away,” Grandma said.
“Maybe that is where the knowledge of those Hebrew symbols came from,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell picked up the broken bowl and ran his fingers over the symbols for love. Then he noticed the large gaping crack on the side.
“Too bad this bowl is not good for anything anymore,” Mitchell said. “I think I’ll just throw it away. It can’t even hold water.”
Grandma took the bowl from Mitchell and held it near her heart.
“Don’t throw something meaningful away because it is broken. We all need repair. The broken part of our life is still a beautiful part of our story that can always be mended with love. It is never too late.”
Grandma found some gold molding compound in her closet and mixed it with water. She slowly filled the large crack in the bowl with gold then stepped back to look at it.
“It looks beautiful Grandma,” Mitchell said taking the bowl and turning it around in his hands. “I’m glad I didn’t throw it away.”
Grandma took Mitchell in her arms and held him close.
“I love you Mitchell,” Grandma said. You are my treasure."