My friend Corrie said to me, “I’m going to make a teepee for my boys this Christmas.”
She’s a brilliant woman, immensely talented especially in the areas of sewing, drawing and baking. She makes complicated, beautiful dresses without patterns. She draws delightful portraits and really great dinosaurs. She makes the best pound cake you’ve ever eaten. She stitched all the canvas for the yurt that she and her family lived in for over a year.
So when she announced her teepee plans, I’m not sure why I didn’t believe her.
And when she called me and said “The teepee is done! Come over for a teepee tea party!”, I’m not sure why I envisioned a tiny teepee, one the size of a small two-person tent or a fort you’d make out of a sheet and clothes pins.
Actually, I know exactly why I thought these things. I thought these things because if I announced plans to make a teepee, A) it wouldn’t happen and B) if I someone how managed to follow through with my intentions, the resulting structure would be pathetic.
But Corrie is not like me. Thank goodness.
I cannot describe sufficiently the delight I experienced when I arrived for our tea party. My delight was more when she poured, not tea, but hot chocolate from the tea pot, the homemade kind like I drank every day in Italy. Nearly as thick as pudding, she could’ve told me it was a pot of melted chocolate bars and I would have believed what she said. Sparrow was so pleasantly overwhelmed by the taste, she guzzled her cup, managing, in the excitement, to get chocolate on her forehead. I, while a bit more outwardly polite and careful with my cup, was just as ravenous in my heart. It was delicious.
Corrie spent five solid days at the town hall, lost in the hum of her sewing machine, to complete it. She and her husband erected it by moonlight, the pale birch poles joined together at the top like long lost friends. It was truly a labor of love, one well worth the effort. Her boys were positively beaming with pride at this thing their mama had made for them. Somehow, too, their backyard seemed proud, or at least more content, having, in contrast to a bare, wintery landscape, this beautiful thing with which to gather all the laughter and joy of our rosy-cheeked children.
And the teepee was magnificent. Stooping down to enter the arched doorway, the world behind me disappeared. The wind fell from my skin and the cold left my bones. Even though there was only a 1/4 inch of canvas between me and everything outside, I felt protected and hemmed in from the wide expanse of winter that loomed just beyond. These months of cold and dark can be daunting but, standing in the teepee’s center watching my daughter’s cheeks flush red as a mountain ash berry, I sensed peace and a swelling of love for the present moment, however cold, however dark, however trying.
Thank you, my red-headed, artist-friend Corrie. Thank you for using your hands to create something exceedingly good. A thing built up instead of torn down. A thing that binds up and hems in. A thing that protects. A thing that welcomes the visitor into its peace. A thing that gathers together all who are there.
May the same be said of you and me. May we be a shelter for those that seek.