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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Things and Stuff

Yesterday a dear friend and I had a discussion about the things of our lives. We both noted that things we have collected in our lives and things we've kept from our heritage (Great Grandma's silver for example), are not wanted by our children and grandchildren.

At first this phenomenon was odd to me, especially when I realized many of my generation are experiencing the dilemma of - why don't they want it? But I saved it because it is our family's and want you to have it!

I had an aha about that a few weeks ago. I was going to speak to the Methodist Women's group about my ministry in Russia. My things are in storage, so I borrowed some Russian items from a friend who had gone with me on one of my many trips (to teach spiritual seminars). When we packed up our house, I gave her several more Russian things, including a little carved box that meant a lot to me (I kept one of the boxes, and it is in storage). I had gotten it in Siberia in a sort of drug re-hab center. The wonderful Natasha found herself with a son in jail because of heroin. She didn't know what to do and there was no literature about it. As I understood it, the official stance was that there is no drug addiction here, so there was no literature about how to deal with it. She got the idea to get parents together to talk and support one another and their family member in trouble. She also got the idea to teach the prisoners how to do things such as carve boxes and then have them for sale in her center so that they would have some money to restart their lives when they got out of prison and she would organize support groups to help them stay off of drugs. She got the city to let her use three rooms to start her center. I admire her soooooo much! On intuition and desperation she created something so helpful. Whenever I went to that city, I went to her center and talked with the recovering addicts and parents. It was such a moving experience for me. I wish I could go there again and hug Natasha and help her work in some way.

So I say all this, because this little wooden box was a symbol for me of profound memories. My friend, who now owns the box, forgot the story I had told her about it, and the box meant little to her other than it was a trinket from Russia, I felt so sad about that. But it led me to a new understanding.

Our things in and of themselves have little value. The memories attached to each item are the value.I thought of some of my "treasures" which are only so because of the memories hovering with them.

There is the olive wood Jerusalem cross I received in the olive wood factory in Bethlehem from the owner who discovered I knew about the Aramaic prayer of Jesus. It doesn't look like much I guess, just a little piece of carved wood, but it means a great deal to me. There is my Toni doll I got a very long time ago. I gave her many "permanents" (remember Toni home permanents) and enjoyed playing with her for a number of years. There is the hand-hammered gold bracelet with a heart dangling. Inside the heart are photos of my paternal grandparents. On the heart there are engraved the initials of both of them in fancy letters. The dent on the heart was caused by my father's first tooth. My paternal grandmother died when my Dad was 7, so I feel a bit of her with this and remember what Aunt Jeannette and Daddy told me about their parents. I have also a couple of their wedding gifts from 1905 and their dining set (which I sat around with family long ago in Pennsylvania and with my family here after it came to me). I feel connected to my family with these, and they are really deeply moving for me to "have". I thought would pass these on to the future. Also, I had the cradle that for a couple of hundred years everyone on my Dad's side of the family slept, including me, my children and grandchildren. My son had it last, and since he has gone away from us, I don't know where it is. Interestingly, my daughter dearly wants it for her grandchildren one day. But I know she wants it because she has memories that mean something to her. I doubt she recalls being in it, but she remembers her three being in it. We hope he still has it, and it will resurface.

Look at the things that seem important, and I imagine you will notice that it is the memories that hover around them that really matter. If we don't want our treasures to end up in a thrift shop, we need to somehow pass on the memories that make them shine to us and hope our descendants will pass on the stories - and maybe even the things themselves.

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