Cleaning Out –
The last two days my mother and I have been working in my dad’s garage. It may be mom’s house but it will always be dad’s garage. We’ve been going through a lot of stuff which needed to be sorted. By the time we finished I had things to throw away, to keep and the garage was clean and organized.
It was a sad and enjoyable time rummaging through dad’s things. He loved tools and one could tell as we tried collecting them in one place. There was paint from projects long ago completed and recent work. Other items hadn’t been opened yet and we wondered; “What project was he thinking about when he bought this?”
The garage was a sacred space for my father. None of us would’ve dared gone in and rearranged it before his passing. My mom said this morning; “I know it needs to be done but I don’t want to do it.” I understood what she meant. There was a sense of invading another’s domain, eery and holy at the same time. There were items we kept not because they were important but because we just aren’t ready to part with them.
I think this best describes our walk down the path this week. We know we must go on without dad but we just aren’t ready to part with him.
Today, at a county health council, I had the privilege to listen to a man speak about an abusive childhood which was saved by someone who cared enough to take him under his wing and become his mentor. He described how this older gentleman would take him out for breakfast some morning and listen, just listen. This went on for several months. Finally, it dawned on the young man that he wasn’t being judged or given unsolicited advice, his mentor was there to hear him. He listened to the good and a lot of bad, the smidgen of positive and a plethora of negatives. The young man, at last, ran out of words to say and the mentor slowly helped him work through all the challenges and difficulties which result from growing up in an abusive and neglectful home. This mentor made all the difference in his life and as a result, the speaker now helps run a multi-county mentoring program and has improved the lives of countless young men and women.
It was a great reminder that most times the greatest gifts we can give another is presence and listening. Too often we see our role in the chaotic lives of others as telling them what to do, how to do it, advice that will make things better and shape to look more like ours. The speaker said today; “I didn’t need someone to tell me all the things I needed to do. I needed someone to let me get it all out so I could sort through it all and figure out what to keep and what to throw away.”
Presence and listening. Two of the greatest and perhaps least used treasures we possess.
The Little Things –
Beth and I finally, after two years and some change, finished moving the rest of our stuff from South Carolina to Tennessee this weekend. It’s odd when you find, see stuff you forgot you owned. It takes a while to remember owning it, what it was used for, and, at least for me, the reoccurring thought; “If we haven’t used it for 2+ years maybe we don’t need it.” I asked that question multiple times this weekend and there was always an answer from the Mrs. as to how and why we still needed it.
Sometimes in life we look at stuff we don’t use regularly and ask; “Do I truly need this?” This applies to tangible items, but also to relationships, emotional baggage, spiritual disciplines, and more. We are tempted to think because some aren’t a regular part of our life it is they which must be lacking in importance.
However, if we allow it, wisdom will teach us that the little things, what we often forget or don’t have a prominent place in our lives, are usually what we need and would benefit us the most.
Lock Up –
Earlier today, on my way to a meeting, I drove by the local recycling and refuse center to empty some trash-cans I had in the back of my truck. I did the deed and proceeded on my way to work. Arriving at work I then ran a chain through my trash-can handles and locked them to insides of the truck bed liner. I didn’t want someone to steal my garbage containers after all. As I sat in my office I began to wonder; “Who, exactly, would want my trash cans?” These dirty, stinky, scratched, dented, containers of all things nasty and disgusting, who would want them?
Wisdom teaches us that many of the things we value in this life are not treasure but trash. They don’t help us but hinder, don’t support us but weigh us down, add no value to our life. Yet, we hold on to them, protect them, refusing to let the refuse go.
I don’t want to buy new trash cans but I certainly want the desire and strength to let go, throw away, any and all things which contaminate my body, mind, and spirit.