Hold on to what is good even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe even if it is a tree which stands alone.
Hold on to what you must do even if it’s a long way from here.
Hold on to life even if it’s easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when I have gone away from you.

– A Pueblo Indian Blessing

I discovered this Indian Blessing not long ago. So simplistic, yet deep! Truth, to be sure, and I like it!

Shortly after I found it, I found a handful of earth! Seriously! A small glass jar with a painted (yes, painted) lid which boasts of the original ingredients: Ma Brown Pickled Beets.

Once, there were 16 ounces of goodness packed inside this now antique jar. It was filled with beets, sugar, distilled vinegar, salt, and something else delicately hidden underneath a well-worn strip of white medical tape.

Handwritten on that tape, in faded ink, the contents of the jar are revealed in eight letters: OKLA SOIL.

Yes, it’s a jar of red dirt along with a couple wisps of dried grass. No one knows how long this jar has held a handful of Oklahoma earth, but there’s no doubt it’s something my mom would have done!

She grew up around the rich, black soil of Southwest Iowa, so the colorful dirt found when we were transplanted to Oklahoma intrigued her, and she bottled it up! You never know when you might need a jar full of red dirt – right?


She was a keeper of all things that might be of value. She captured treasures among the most trivial things, found beauty in the mundane, and gathered goodness from creation around us!

Her habit was never more evident to me than when I was trying to help her sort through the accumulations of a lifetime. By the time she was willing to do so, she was unable to do so. It was too much – literally, as well as figuratively. Too overwhelming. Too hard. The most we could devote to downsizing was about 30 minutes a day – that was her limit, and it just didn’t get done.

Months later, I sorted through boxes labeled “Sentimental Trash” only to find treasures tucked inside. Treasures like a jar of red dirt!

That Pueblo Blessing says “Hold on to what is good even if it is a handful of earth!” I doubt my mom had ever heard of that blessing, but she carried that dirt for decades!

We left Oklahoma the summer of 1966. We moved several times while I was still at home. My parents moved a few more times as empty-nesters. Yet, the dirt followed her to Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado. With every move in her lifetime, my mom held on to what was good, even if it was a handful of earth!

And, yes! I still have it! Maybe one day I’ll throw it away. Then again, maybe not!

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