She Never Knew that She Lived in Elegance and Beauty

She was a fretful woman who forever worried about things. She held herself to abnormally high standards and the normal processes of life caused her to become worn out and frazzled. She was so worn out that she could not see that everyone else was also only giving up as much as they had to share with the world.

The invitation was more of a summons than it was a heartfelt desire for her wonderful presence. At least, that was the way that she saw it. The neighborhood women were putting on the event, which was to be a high tea. The dress code screamed about long dresses, hats, proper footwear, and proper deportment. Elegance, not flip flops and Capri pants, was the business of the day.

She did not have a long dress and she hated them. She hated them because she did not have a reason to go anywhere in a long dress.

Why did these women have to put on such an overblown event? Did they really know what high tea was all about? High tea was supposed to be a bit of sustenance to carry people from supper to dinner, not a fancy dress extravaganza!

For days, her apprehension and feelings of being put upon rose to extreme heights as the mere thought of having to find, let alone pay for, a proper long dress worried at her.

She put her apprehensions aside and went shopping. Much to her delight and surprise, she found a beautiful dress at a discount outlet for only a few dollars. She already had a lovely pair of shoes and a hat that would work beautifully with the dress.

With one problem solved, she felt better than she had in a year. For the past few months, she had been ready to feel better. She wanted to feel better. She resolved that she would feel better.

She was not required to bring anything, to do anything, or to otherwise lift a finger except to raise her teacup or reach for another sandwich or cake.

She loved the idea of not having to do something that would have to impress anyone. Her worst fear for the past year had been about having to impress someone, but not having the resources to do so.

On the day of the event, she rose early, paid particular attention to her makeup and hair (which ended up under the hat), and fussed around all day until it was time to go to the late afternoon event. The event was being held in the neighborhood clubhouse. One poor soul thought that it was going to be at a local church and had driven for miles just to find out that it was right where she had started out from: at home!

She felt much better, not having made such a terrible and disappointing mistake. The heat was unbearable that day and she would have been both late in arriving and wilted in appearance!

There were ten tables, each hosted by a different neighbor. The tables knocked her out. There was heartbreaking attention to detail. Each table had luxurious displays of sandwiches and cakes. There was a collection of beautiful teacups and saucers that obviously held the memories and secrets of each woman’s life. Each table had its own creative place cards, and there were delightful bowls and saucers of candy and special treats.

The neighbors were so happy to see her and she was truly happy to see them. Everyone was dressed so beautifully. There were hugs. There were inquiries into her well being. She was glad to be able to make inquiries of her own, despite her isolation for most of the year.

The high tea itself seemed to demand that everyone make a group effort at having some joy on that given day.

A woman at her table was proud to note that her own outfit was twelve years old and that she had bought it for her grandson’s christening. Another woman walked by in a brilliant confection of a hat that must have cost a bundle. That hat eventually won the “best hat” contest. Everyone was comfortable in their own skins. No one felt left out, put out or out of place.

One of the speakers gave a brief and inspirational talk about the “Phenomenal Woman”. Another got the point across about communities that live with love for one another. Her heart rose with every element of the party and her mood was lifted with each every one of the inspirational presentations.

She felt at home. She felt that she was a part of somewhere. She was part of a community of people who had the capacity to love and care about each other.

She no longer felt grey and transparent. She felt substantial. She felt as if she fit in the world and that the world fit around her. It had been a long time since she had felt the color coming back into her own skin.

A neighbor approached her and loudly stated that she looked wonderful. After that, she helped her hostess with the clearing up and went home with two beautiful teapots that she bought from the charity auction. She also carried a resolution home with her.

Her resolution was to not view any more invitations as summonses or worrisome burdens. She felt healed, light, and whole.

Her year of living in a treacherous and fearsome world had ended simply because the neighborhood ladies were geniuses at putting on an event that was somehow washed in a spiritual light. The invitation that she considered to be a summons was not for just any old tea party.

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