The Weight of the World and a Mysterious Bead

Four years with a derelict president, the pandemic, and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine make it hard to get out of bed each day. If ever the cliché of carrying the world’s weight were true, it is now.

I’m grateful to have a bed, a roof over my head, a loving family, and relative safety. It’s impossible, however, to shed this grief and the daily worry of “what next?” as images of women and frightened children pepper the news. I feel hopeless and helpless in the face of a monster.

In late December, one of the unhoused women I serve showed me a weighty bead that rolled into her tent.

Heavy bead with gold and silver texture

She had no idea how it got there and made it clear she didn’t let anyone inside her tent. She thought it might be a map of Russia since it sported a small red star, but on further examination, it seemed abstract. Most of all, she was worried that it might be a bad omen.

I don’t believe in omens or superstitions, but she does, and that’s what matters. I offered to hold on to it for her, and she seemed relieved. She warned me to be careful if anything terrible started happening to me.

I didn’t see her in the intervening weeks, and the bead remained in a drawer downtown. I eventually brought it home and created a charm from my collection of buttons and ephemera.

Charmed with Affection

I made a small card to go with the charm and gave it to her when she returned.

You Are Awesome

I wrote:

Dear [ ],
I turned the beautiful bead you found in your tent into a charm. It’s infused with affection and hope. You deserve a life off of the streets. Carry this with you as a reminder that our Lifted Spirits volunteers want the best for you.

With affection, Alys

The clear button and the leaf from my stash represent water and earth, and her bead represents the global community. I turned an object of fear into a thing of beauty and hope. I wish I could do the same for our weary world.

I’m carrying my own heavy burdens closer to home. The sadness is mine, but the circumstances are not mine to share. Instead, I have a sorrow deep in my chest, reflecting it outward through my weary eyes. It invades my sleep.

I long for peace.

18 thoughts on “The Weight of the World and a Mysterious Bead

  1. Oh hon, there doesn’t seem to be much to celebrate lately does there? Even if there were, somehow it seems crass with what others are enduring in Ukraine. I’m so glad you found a way to feel brighter. I can’t imagine the surprise your friend must have felt knowing that you care enough to make it for her. So dear 💗
    Sorry to hear you haven’t been sleeping. That alone can bring on depression and fatigue makes it even harder to deal. We don’t make good decisions when we are dead tired. That being said, I’m sure I wouldn’t sleep either given the worry you have right now. I hope there will be answers and solutions to the heavy struggle your family is facing. Arms around you, hold on xxK

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  2. The transformation of the bead is lovely. It made me smile. Keeping a cheery countenance is a hard thing to do these days so thanks for helping me out today. This was me last Thursday.. the complexity of my Thursday mood is approximately this: it’s hard not to feel trapped and cornered by concern with my personal struggles topped by concern for national struggles/or well being of one’s nation, overlaid by concerns for countries and conflicts far from home but threatening world peace. I am sure I am not alone in my Thursday mood. ” While your personal burdens are unique to you, you are not alone in your weariness. And since it is International Women’s Day, I feel a need to ask, “When did Atlas go AWOL and leave the weight of the world (skies) on our shoulders?” He has been missing in action for a heck of a long time. 🙂

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  3. What a story! The bead is so lovely, and I find it interesting it was considered a bad omen. Wonderful how you turned it into something even lovelier. I hope the woman finds the security and safety she needs.

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  4. You are absolutely brilliant, Alys. I get superstitions because my mother had a host of her own. I’ve been a long time student of A Course in Miracles that says nothing has any meaning until we give it that meaning. This is a very clear example. It’s just a button or something pretty to the person looking at it. As soon as we see something different, it becomes so. The card is stunning too. Now all you have to do is see what is making you so weary, different too. Not so easy but it can be done. You have a wonderful talent for others. Put up a mirror for yourself. This is a wonderful post!!

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  5. what a beautiful thing to do – to take it from her to relieve her of the worry, and then to return it, in a manner that converted the negativity into positivity. That’s really, really wonderful. Thank you for sharing your kindness. It’s properly #CheeryUppy. May I share this on Twitter please?

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  6. I too, long for peace, and am having trouble shaking the dread that I feel lately in the world.

    But your story, and your act of beauty and kindness sparks a little bit of warmth into being. I am comforted by that.

    —v

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