I had a conversation with our custodian here at the church this morning regarding our tossing a lot of VCR’s that have accumulated over the years. Many of them are some kind of teaching or seminar-type tapes, and some are children’s tapes. We put them out for the congregation to pick through, and several were taken. But there were a lot that were not, and we no longer have room to store them, so they go out the back door.
As I was loading up a box to take out to the back, Bob remarked about how people, especially older people, tend to save anything and everything. He talked of a time when they had to clean out the house of a family member. There was stuff in the attic. There was stuff in the garage. There was stuff on shelves. There was stuff everywhere; most of it was not serviceable, such as some umbrellas that were stored in an attic that had no fabric on them. They ended up throwing away just about everything that was there, save about 12 cubic feet of things that easily could fit just about anywhere.
As he was talking, I was recalling cleaning out the home place when Dad passed away some 26 years ago. The trash man brought a dumpster, but it quickly filled. He should have brought one of those 30 yard containers instead. There was stuff in the house. The attic. The cellar. The garage “storage” (don’t ask). There was stuff in the paper house (again, don’t ask). The paper house lean-to. The paper house attic. The paper house bustle. There was stuff in the shop. The shop attic. The shop lean-to. And of course there was stuff piled in piles outside. The iron pile. The wood pile. The brass/copper pile. The pipe pile (The pipe pile was in the shop lean-to). The wire pile. Etc. Etc. Etc. If we would have still had the chicken house and the barn, there would have been stuff in them (probably along with chickens and maybe a steer or heifer).
I’m surprised we didn’t have stuff in a tree house somewhere. There was stuff parked in the cedar tree row that lined the old rail right of way. There was stuff parked in the patch out back. There was stuff inside of stuff. And it all had to be gone through, because older folks tend to squirrel away c-notes and sawbucks in weird places. Of course, this all was a product of a family that had lived there since 1939. A family that was a product of the Great Depression and WWII. A family that always had enough, but never had an over-abundance. Where the bread-winner was all too familiar with a teetering “on the edge” of poverty for most of his child-rearing days. Where work was hard and reward was sometimes elusive. A family where Mom and Dad were acutely aware of God’s provision and blessings during those days. Where prayer was a staple just as much as cornmeal, fresh eggs from the chicken house, or garden green beans.
We live in a different era, it seems. Gone (mostly) are the chicken houses, the garden green beans, beets, peas, and potatoes, the days of pressure canning, of picking wild berries and fruit to help with nutritional needs, raising beef to butcher (or hunting game to fill hungry stomachs), and of raising broiler chickens to sell for a few extra dollars, or taking in sewing or ironing or selling eggs for 25 cents a dozen. Gone are the outdoor showers that used water heated naturally by the sun, the privies, and using phone books or catalogs for toilet paper.
No, I don’t want to go back to the “good old days”. But I do think we can bring some lessons forward into today’s world that just might ground us a little more into the ideas and notions that we aren’t the end-all and be-all of this universe. That we still, whether we know it and admit it or not, depend entirely on the God of the universe for our daily bread, health, and being. And the sooner we get on our knees and thank God for His care and love, the better.