I want to reflect today about the whole issue of ‘things.’
I get the importance of being detached from material possessions. I finally off-loaded years of accumulated stuff…things I was storing for the kids, things left by parents and grand parents, childhood toys and memorabilia, closets full of things long forgotten that I’d bought in quantity “on sale” and then lost among all the rest of the stuff in the back of the closet or the cupboard or the drawer or the garage or the shed or the storage lockers.
The whole process took nearly six months and a move to a new home with just half the size of our old one. I promised myself that I’d only keep what I cherished or what I planned to use. What an amazingly few things survived this purge. And how liberating it was to let go of the rest. For me it became a nearly religious experience, as I realized only after it was all gone the tremendous lightening of heart I felt by just giving it all away.
Still, what about all those things I held onto? The things I still have?
My husband and I were recently displaced from our home by water damage, which required much of the living room, dining area and kitchen to be pulled out and replaced. We were fortunate that nothing of real value was damaged. But as we have moved about for nearly nine weeks from place to place awaiting our home to be repaired, I discovered not only the disorientation of being in unfamiliar surroundings, but a surprising sense of consolation and warmth as we began to reclaim our home and all our things…those cherished things that I retained from ‘the purge.’
The comfort I feel being surrounded by these familiar things, all in their proper places (where I can go without even thinking and find just what I’m looking for) is so extreme that I felt a need to assess. Am I too attached to them? Do they represent something unhealthy?
The things I’m talking about aren’t valuable to anyone but me and my husband. The old pocket watch from my grandfather. The little statute of a band conductor, made by a close family friend and given to my father-in-law, who was also a band conductor. The paper mache statute of an angel playing a guitar that was my mother-in-law’s. The little marble dish with birds on the rim, a gift from me to my mother, which I know she cherished because she gave it a special place in her home from the day she receive it. The 70+ year old whetstone in its original cardboard box, now completely soaked with the oil that Dad used each time he sharpened a knife to a razor-sharp edge. The ceramic plaque my daughter made in high school. They each hold special memories. Even new stuff, like the Greyhound bookends I bought just a few years ago, remind me of our sweet Greyhound, who gave us so much joy for so many years.
Each of these things is precious in what it represents. They each comfort me with memories of the avenues through which God has loved me – through the people and pets and books and experiences – gifts He has given me throughout my life. When I see them, they anchor me, assuring me of His amazing love for me. They remind me of joyful times and once in a while, of sorrowful times, but always they console me with the memory of the many, many ways I’m connected to and blessed by His love.