Some years ago I was looking through my mother's old photo albums with her youngest sister, making notes of who was what and where. We noticed that in a good number of pictures from mom's grade-school years, she was wearing the same dress. My aunt explained that when they were growing up, they each had one good dress, which they wore to church and any other special occasion, and often got passed down. One good dress! When I was growing up, there was a family in our church in Spokane who had relatives in Seattle who were fairly well-off and had daughters who were a size or two bigger than their Spokane cousin. So the cousin got their hand-me-downs--very nice things, usually. And my mom's best friend had a daughter another size smaller. And I was the next size down, and there were two more girls down from me. We would check out what the bigger girls in the chain were wearing, because that's what our "good dress" would be down the line.
Now can we even imagine having just one all-occasion good dress? I've been house-hunting off and on for about a year, and the newer the house, the larger the closet. I've seen some that have closets bigger than some bedrooms used to be. Now I'm "paying" for my genetic packrattery, as my house finally sold and I am dealing with 40 years worth of stuff. Actually more, because there's stuff that came from my folks' house as well. My first thought was to find a house about half the size of this one, and deal with stuff over a year or so. I was fortunate in a way to have all the houses I was interested in not work out, some of them because I didn't have a good closing date until this month. I think a light bulb went off when I was reading a book I ran across sorting books (books are somewhat out of hand around here) by a family who went through several disasters that essentially wiped them out at least twice. It made me truly realize that I was over-stuffed, and I needed to somehow get down to basics and downsize a lot farther than my original plan. I hadn't done a lot of packing ahead because I didn't have a time frame or know what space I was going to find. I still don't know where God wants me, but am working on what is the minimum I would need and/or want wherever. My kids have been over here helping clear out, and I came home one day last week to find that my daughters had posted a list of what needed to be done. At the top it says 1) Pack Mom's needs--not wants. 2) Pack Mom's wants--limited to the tubs . We are dealing with enough dishes to do Thanksgiving dinners for 30-50 people, closets with clothes in various sizes because I've been various sizes over the years, not to mention stuff left over from everyone else. My kids had great fun last weekend finding old stuff of theirs; and even more fun reading things I wrote in college and the summer I met their dad.
There is some value in old stuff, it helps you understand where you've been, what you've learned, and what God has done with you over the years. But we live in a world full of stuff, some of which becomes a substitute for the realities of life. It brings me back around to a question I've been haunted by for some years now: what do we need to give up to be ready for the presence of God?
BTW: we are having a house sale the weekend of May 31-June 1; call me for directions (909-844-1920).