At Home

You know those TV sitcom moments when one person opens a closet door and all the stuff that is jammed in there comes tumbling out? Let’s just say, I wish I weren’t the kind of person who would ever jam stuff in a closet to clean up.

But… on occasion… I have been known to sweep everything off the catch-all kitchen buffet and into a drawer or cabinet, minutes before guests are due to arrive on our doorstep. And… on occasion… (I know this is hard to believe…) I don’t get back to those sequestered items… for a while.

All this is to say that I opened a cabinet and thought it might be a good idea to clean the silly thing out. Peering in, I wondered: How long has it been like this? What might I find in there? Will I emerge from this thankless task before giving up on it?

I valiantly extracted a pile of papers to proceed with my impulsive plan. First, there was an explosion of glitter of unknown origin. This was a messy start, but I persisted. Yea, me!

Then, I found a map book, like… on paper. And a community business directory, as in…the yellow pages. And a Ladies Charitable cookbook, shall we say… hello, old friend!

Once I sorted the obvious big items, I tackled the stacks and stacks of greeting cards. I opened and re-read each one. Except the Christmas card letters. You know the ones. The typed letters (like these silly blogs) that try to share every precious thing that happened that year in one very full page of text. Those (forgive me), I just glanced at, gave thanks for, and asked God’s blessing upon, as I gently ushered them into the recycling bin.

Still, I re-read each of the note cards. So many of them were from you. So many others were from people we call saints: Wally and Grace, Ken and Jane, Jim and Rose and Liz and George and more. Some of these sweet cards celebrated my ordination! Others welcomed our family to Second Church. Some offered sympathy for my father’s death. Others offered sympathy for Fred’s father’s death. Interspersed were a couple of report cards, a few church bulletins, and some random Confirmation materials.

It turns out that in my archeological dig, I excavated beautiful fossils from my first year in ministry here. Yes. All of these events took place within six very full, and very challenging months, more than 14 years ago. 

To be honest, most of that year was a blur: newly ordained, first church, big move, new community, different school system… great excitement, great loss, great grief. It is no wonder that I had swept some of the memories off the buffet of my day to day life.

But now, years later, excavating your precious words on your beautifully chosen cards, helped me to unearth some great gifts from that wonderful and painful year. Re-reading your cards at this time I am reminded of what I have always known. We are in ministry together. Before you even knew me, you loved me. Before I even knew you, I loved you. Before we even met, God called us into relationship. And that is so rare and beautiful, like glitter that sticks to everything and makes even the messy things sparkle.

Looking at these treasures, I knew that I could dust off and preserve every last card to create a museum display of these ancient bones. A few years ago, I might have done just that. But I decided that keeping everything might lead me to one of those sitcom moments with a falling house of cards! Besides, I would never get my cabinet clean that way. So, I only kept a couple. Most of the cards I carefully re-read, tenderly gave thanks for, and lovingly asked God’s blessing upon, before gently ushering them into the recycling bin.

Thank you for this precious moment of recycled love. Please know how much I love you. I give thanks for you, for those who have gone on before, for those who have come since, and for the love we all share in God’s name.