For years I joked that when I found the perfect purse, I’d know I’d attained enlightenment. This would be a handbag with an easy-access outer pouch for my cell phone, not too many internal compartments for losing stuff, and a kind of all-season quality that would make it fashionable in summer or winter.
In search of the Miracle Purse, I began to notice a pattern—a new purse would inevitably enter my wardrobe on the cusp of a major life change. Just before my husband proposed to me, I coincidentally tossed out my canvas satchel for a spiffy leather tote. Before I learned I was pregnant with my first child, a friend gifted me a new purse with twice as much room as my old one (enough for diapers and diaper wipes, in fact).
Soon, I began to see the same pattern in other women’s lives. My mother, who used the same handbag for years, won a new one in a store draw a month before she unexpectedly found herself widowed. My friend had her purse stolen just before the discovery her husband was cheating on her—by the time she bought a new handbag, divorce talks were underway.
When you stop to think about this, a woman’s handbag (and man’s billfold) is not just any old container. Wallets and handbags are repositories for identification, the place we keep that which names us and proves to the world who we are. We carry our valuable ID around in portable containers prone to theft, loss and damage. This leaves our sense of identification, our “I-ness”, entirely vulnerable and yet somehow we still cling to a belief that because these items are on our person, they are safe and sound. The truth is God can snatch your “me” away any old time, no matter how well you clutch or guard your sense of self.
Take me for example. When I woke up from the dream of self, it was as if my everyday identity had been lifted by a cosmic pick pocket. In one overnight heist, my whole self-identification went missing. At first I walked dazed through the world. Robbed of 49 years of a crazy belief in Lori Ann, the container of me had suddenly emptied of reactive emotions and the clutter of useless past-or-future-oriented thoughts. And yet, funny enough, the purse I’d been carrying around for two years, my leather Michael Kors with far too many compartments, was still in use. I wandered about town, a no-self with a handbag full of false ID.
One month after enlightenment struck, I dashed into a store to escape a downpour. There, I spotted a handbag with a luminous quality, a saintly disposition and the aura of a Miracle Purse. I bought it without hesitation, ditching the Michael Kors the same day.
Let me tell you about my new identity holder. It has only one interior compartment, the middle. Here I keep my sense of humor, along with Kleenex for the occasional tear or two. There’s two easy access outside compartments, one for my cell phone (God is always calling me up to chat) and the other for empty space. The cloth design is some kind of Navaho or Zuni print, which I’m certain is a secret code for nirvana, but until I decipher it my run-of-the-mill vast emptiness will do.
Here is what my new purse does not have room for: Me. Not one extra compartment for Lori Ann to tuck into. Nope. This is the Miracle Handbag. Did I mention it was half the price of the big old designer bag, with so many sections that I could never find a thing? Even my no-self got lost in that vortex.
So, here’s to Miracle Purses. They show up just to remind you of this truth: When you finally stop looking, what you are looking for finds you.
Awareness is here, (hand bag in hand!)
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