One year, so long ago my sister and I were twenty-something and thirty-something living together in an old bungalow in Houston, we had a run of bad luck. I was on crutches off and on for a year. Then I broke a bone in my hand. I couldn't fasten my bra, turn the key in my front door or open a bottle of champagne (the most distressing of issues) by myself. And got my heart broken, again.
Work was more pain than pleasure. Both of our jobs were in jeopardy as the local economy crashed. We worried about keeping the roof over our heads.
Then a car smashed broadside into my sister's Toyota. Her injuries put her out of work for six weeks and into rehab for much longer.
As she lay in bed, swallowing pain pills left over from my ankle operation, I knew we had to do something. About "It". The curse we must have acquired in the prior twelve months. We hadn't knowingly offended anyone, but who knows where ill winds originate? Maybe from dinner at the 'Open 23 Hours A Day' diner not far from our house, a place where neither of us would sit with our backs to the door. Or during our week on a Central American island spent scuba-diving and drinking good rum under the stars.
The obvious solution was to fight bad karma with good. I took down my favorite bowl, Caribbean-blue and hand-made by a local artist. As the roses faded from my sister's accident-bouquet, I clipped the heads and placed them in the bowl. John and Peter's good wishes come to rest.
We put out a call to friends. Donna gave us a shiny-smooth purple rock she'd found in a creek near her home the year she was nine. Acorns came from my parent's yard, pine cones from the park, shells from our last scuba trip, a champagne cork dated and initialed at our last celebration, a downy blue jay feather from our front lawn. Life and beauty and adventure and memory. Love and hope in a bowl.
When we felt overwhelmed, we'd look in the bowl and remember nature and the love of friends and family. Life had been good and would be good again.
Several years later, my sister's life moved her to Canada and mine took me to Miami. I found another karma bowl ($3 at a garage sale, it had the right feel and look, karma isn't a matter of dollars) and we divided the dusty icons. Half went east, half west. In our new homes, we added sprigs from Christmas trees and rocks from our paths. New hopes and dreams.
It worked. Neither of us ever had another year like the first. It's true that amid prosperity and good times we had pain, lost jobs, divorce, cancer, heartbreak. But in a bowl on the shelf in the living room is Good Karma. Night passes, morning comes.
Words and photos by Kathleen Scott, Hill Country Mysteries.