An ancient art passed down is more than just tradition.
|The children would play, coming in and out of the front door. The resulting draft was given means to whisper an eerie tune as it whistled through an ancient elm in the hallway.
“Seven virtues handed down,
each a year to take the crown.
Learn the ways, count the days,
a brother, a sister no rivalry.
Earn together to keep the lore,
one day to part but make it more."
The Elm, sat perched on an old oak display cabinet in the hallway of our house. If, when we were young, and if we had paid attention to what was quiet and pure we may have stopped to take a closer look.
A child may have seen the verse, “Seven virtues handed down ….” engraved in the jade stone plate under the Elm.
A child brought up by the keeper of the Elm, their curiosity now piqued, may have seen the magnifying glass clasped neatly on the side of the tray. They would have been able to use it to see the fine writing carved into each of the seven branches of the tree. Precision: Care: Continuity: Art: Patience: Trust: and lastly on the highest branch, Tradition.
My name is Shenkar and my wife’s name is Veronsay and we are Mr. and Mrs. Westonlee.
When I think back to my first virtue and my first awakening I can only grasp for a second a faint memory of that soft, vague whistling tune or the image of the ancient Elm, before that grain of time slips through my reach.
Ellisay our daughter, tended to our neighbours kitten one winter, when it fell from her window. The first virtue of the children of our handed down heirloom, the mystical Elm bonsai, can never be taught. It needs to appear in the year of a seventh birthday.
So for the journey of my lineage, Care was the virtue that appeared first and began our challenge as the kitten was nursed back to health from a broken paw. As the paw healed a single white blossom appeared on the branch of Care.
As a pre-condition to my marriage and the keeping of the Elm, I told parts of this very tale to Veronsay on the day I proposed. We would now teach the remaining virtues to our children to ensure the passing on of the seven virtues.
Aronkar, our son turned 10 years old that year, and it so happened he chose a guitar for his birthday. His fingers plucked at strings, and a gnarled Beethoven screamed out, when instead his friends lost patience and went to play soccer in the park without him. His bleary eyes, testament to late nights and early mornings allowed him to keep his grades and keep his vice. The Elm kept vigil, and note by note, finger by finger, scale by scale, the movement turned from a crowded mass to an ordered contrast of light and heavy, slow and fast, simple and complex, and the last note of the last month before he turned eleven a final note brought forth a new blossom as the branch of Precision bloomed.
Continuity blossomed soon afterwards as Aronkar picked up the chores Veronsay had simply done without request when the “Guitar Quest” had started. It was time for Veronsay to find the artist inside.
Paint buckets and brushes, walls of pink and crumpled canvasses littered the months like tears on a calendar. Her quest was only soothed by the journal she kept as her sketches of people resembled something alien and her pottery lopsidedly offended geometry.
When the night before her birthday she handed her mother her diary and sighed, “I haven’t left a stone unturned, here is my diary, I will find something, but this year has come too quickly. The diary was filled with verses and pictures, and a kaleidoscope of colour and movement that charted her course through a year of struggle, hope and ultimately without a prize.
As Veronsay showed me the diary a blossom of art and patience emerged. Words can paint pictures, and art is where the heart is. Patience is how we deal with discovery, even if it’s not what we set out to do.
Aronkar and Ellisay were given a task. The Elm needed to be split in two. Grown separately for each of them and to trust that each would grow to be as ancient and strong as the parent.
We watched this final passage as our two children debated the instruction. Time seemed endless as the Elm remained on its perch.
When they finally decided to take up their task, they went to work with a heavy heart.
Trust blossomed for only a moment as they carefully dissected the roots and found the most natural way through the trunk and up through the branches.
Many months passed, many years passed. And finally before seven years were up each new tree provided just a bright green array of shoots that resembled a crown and the passing of our tradition.