Circles and bowls

Is there a woman who doesn't love a bowl? If there is I haven't met her. A few days ago in the Mexican town of Sayulita my daughter and I found our way into a shop filled with beautiful pottery of all kinds. But it was the bowls that captured us. Unique designs, colorful and subtle, and it wasn't long before we were picking them up and admiring.

"Mom, look at this one."

"Oh, my gosh. And look at this." We finally had to tear ourselves away; our companions were getting restless.

Take any group of women shopping in a store that sells china or pottery and almost always they will end up caressing various bowls. Inevitably, one will say "I love bowls." 

"Me too," says another. "I have so many bowls I have no room for more."

To state the obvious, bowls hold things; they are practical. Little bowls hold little things: olives or nuts; paperclips or bobbie pins. Large bowls hold larger things, a casserole for your family, or a salad for a pot luck dinner.

Bowls, which are among the first items our ancestors created, are loved and appreciated in a way other utensils aren't. And I think women appreciate them, not only because they are useful and beautiful but because on a more subtle level they represent ourselves. For what is a uterus if not a life-containing bowl?

Proper bowls are circular, which is a comforting shape. Not for me that mean looking triangle—such sharp points—or boring rectangle, or worse, a parallelogram. No, I'll take round every time. Round like the belly of a pregnant woman. Round like the earth that sustains us and like the sun that warms us. Round like a bowl.

I write this on the first day of a new year, as we begin another circle around our sun, a year that's bound to be confusing at times. But I have high hopes for 2019, if we can summon our better angels and remember our history; remember that together we succeed.

As a small child I was taught this verse by Edwin Markham, and thinking about the year ahead it came to mind.

He drew a circle that shut me out

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win.

We drew a circle that took him in.