Trash or Treasure

As I unpack and sort boxes of books for the first time in many years, it feels as though I am on a treasure hunt. The books I use on a regular basis are safely stowed in my desk, the last box packed and the first opened. What is in the other boxes is an accumulation of books acquired for seminary classes, special interests, and general information that seemed interesting or useful. I’m discovering many things that still look interesting or useful, but the insides remain a mystery to me. I haven’t taken the time to open these treasures, and had forgotten I even had them. The tasks of life, and maybe a bit of procrastination, have kept me from doing what I intended to do.
Many years ago, someone gave my dad a disc with the word “tuit” printed on it (as in “when I get a round “tuit”). It acted as a reminder that we don’t always live up to our intentions. When my mother died, we discovered many unused possessions, which she intended to use “some day.” (She was from a generation when it was considered essential to have a new nightgown and underwear in case one had to go to the hospital!) Seldom was there an occasion special enough to warrant using the “best” china or the silverplate flatware. (Besides, they were used so seldom that it would have required polishing.) As for the beautiful crystal, that never happened, since something could be broken in the using or the washing. One congregation had lovely pastel tablecloths, but continued to set the tables for events with old, dingy plastic lace tablecloths. When asked why, they said that the pastel tablecloths were donated by “Vangie,” and, since she was now dead, she couldn’t give permission for them to be used!
Now I find myself wondering what else I have been hoarding “just in case” or “for a special occasion” that could have been used to make an occasion special, or to share a treasure that is tarnishing in a drawer. When our boys were young, meals were often a hurried affair, with minimal attention to detail. One day, the boys came home and found the table set and asked, “Are Grandma and Grandpa coming for dinner?” They had learned to read the cues that a set table meant guests, not needed for the every day life of our family. On that particular occasion, we weren’t having guests, but it certainly made me question our patterns of living!
I suspect that every one of us, and every community to which we belong, has some hoarding habits. We’re waiting for “Vangie” to tell us it’s all right to use the good tablecloths. We haven’t been give a round TUIT. We’re not sure if this occasion is worth putting forth the effort to polish the silver and use the good dishes. We’re anxious that we might need whatever we have in the future, more than we need it now. Our hoarding may be sending a message to those who are watching and reading the signs. A message that the ordinary is “good enough” for them. A message that “we don’t have time for you.” A message that “a future possibility is more important than the present moment or need.” A message of “scarcity” rather than a message of generosity and abundance.
As much as possible, I am determined to open the treasures I’ve collected and share them with the people I meet every day. I’m going to set the table and use the good china and crystal, even if it gets chipped. I’m going to practice abundance and generosity rather than scarcity. I’m going to give up hoarding in favor of sharing. And I believe, if I am able to do that, there will be more than enough for everyone to experience the treasures I’ve received, not as personal possessions, but as opportunities to share life and love. What an amazing world we could create if we all do the same.
Stay safe and be blessed,
Pastor Barbara

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