Barley and Broken Glass

Sometimes I say that I am a different version of the myself and it feels deeply true as evidenced by an encounter with barley and broken glass showed me.

This morning, as I was making my favorite breakfast of oatmeal with the sweetest, freshest berries picked from my neighbor’s garden, I went into the cupboard to grab the mason jar filled with raisins. My mind was filtering, scanning, skimming all sorts of things… in other words I was really not paying much attention to the task in front of me. I turned toward the counter and heard this thud and then the shattering of glass as a small jar of barley crashed on to my kitchen floor. As I turned toward the sound, as I look down at the mess, in the split second, the tiny, tiny second between the action and the reaction I saw the fork in the road.

One direction would lead me down the path that began with words like “You stupid idiot,  how did you let this happen?” “Look at this mess, what is wrong with you.”

The other direction would lead me down a path that began with words like, “Are you ok?” “Be careful of the glass.” “Go and grab some shoes and then we can clean this up in no time.” In that split second I chose to follow the gentle, less worn path.

So this nurturing voice  guided me to a pair of shoes and together we returned to the broken shards and bits of barley sprawled everywhere. We shook out the rug, we moved the recycling and the trash can out of the way and we grabbed the broom. All the while she was talking to me in hushed tones saying those nurturing, nourishing, self-loving things,

“It is ok, you did not lose anything of any importance.”


“You are ok. Just a silly bump in the road.”


“You are human and sometimes things happen that you can’t control. It doesn’t mean anything. A jar broke and barley was spilled, nothing more and nothing less.”

We scooped up the big pieces and listened to the tingle of the glass as it clamored into the recycling, we swept the floor twice (she insisted on twice as she gently reminded me that I am usually in stocking feet around the cottage). In five minutes time, the mess was gone, the delicious oatmeal was ready and all was right in my the world.

Today’s barley and broken glass reminded me of this serious conversation I found myself in with a friend of mine, in which I said to her “If it ever comes down to taking care of you or taking care of me, I will take care of me.” I have no idea how we had ended up there but I do remember that she bristled at my statement with words echoing distant childhood accusations of being called selfish. At the time, I rationalized my statement by saying that if I am taking care of you and you are taking care of you, who is looking out for me?

Today, amidst a mess of broken glass, I was reminded of who is looking out for me and I felt so grateful and apparently I am on the right path.