Well, it’s a sunny day at close to the end of May, so it’s a good a day as any for rearranging fever. Perhaps you aren’t aware of this term – so let’s take some time to explain it.
In the earlier years of Cheri’s and my married life, we actually moved pretty often. A year and a half, two and a half years – we did live in Grand Forks for four years, but we lived in three different houses across town. That’s just pretty much how things go for young pastors and families. In those eight years, having moved actually six times meant that we didn’t have much of a chance to get bored with, or tired of the arrangement of the furniture in different homes or parsonages.
However, it suddenly happened that we reached the level of an appointment to a church that held with it the expectation that we might stay for a while. It was actually a nice feeling, to not keep moving all over the country side. However, after about two years in Fargo, where we lived the first time around, there began to arise a sense of – not discontent, but fidgety-ness. It almost felt like it was nearly time to move, but nothing externally proved that out. The church was thrilled with us being there, we were happy, the boys were growing up and very happy with a huge back yard and lots of trees. We just felt, well, kind of fidgety, that’s all.
So, what we did in the midst of all that, was to catch “rearranging fever.” I have to admit we really made it up. Basically focusing on the living room, although the family room, and even the bedrooms were not spared, we began to experiment with moving the furniture around, just to give us a different perspective, or to simply make the room look more interesting. Couch, chairs, plants, lamps, cupboards – nothing was spared from being moved to a different angle, a different part of the room. It frankly helped the wear pattern of the carpet, but it also gave us a chance to rearrange and start fresh, it seemed, with our furniture arrangement, without of course having to pack it all up and move somewhere new.
After all these years, in eight more living spaces, I expect we have “rearranged” about every two years or so. It’ll start out, usually, as we are sipping on coffee some Saturday, that one or the other of us will say, “I wonder what it would look like if…” Pretty soon, we are either sketching out a rough plan of where things go where, or in worst case, we just start tugging chairs, moving rugs, relocating cupboards from one floor to another (not recommended!), and rearranging our lives, at least a bit. It’s always kind of fun, either half way through, or just after we have finished the transformation, to have one or both boys come upstairs, and comment – pretty loudly – “What have you done?” as their normally unchanged world gets spun around a little, and we all get a different perspective.
We moved into our current home a little over five years ago, and have always rearranged for Christmas. This past summer, during the pandemic, we donated our piano to a local church, and that spurred an enormous rearrangement, but opened up the room tremendously, in a good way. Another successful bout of rearranging fever.
About three years ago, in my office, the built-in shelving/desk system on one wall decided it no longer wished to remain where it was installed, and I found one day that the shelving unit was sitting at a 60 degree angle from the wall. Not falling down, but certainly not comfortable. We ended up unloading the entire set of shelves and the contents of the whole desk, and gave it away to someone who would like to secure it better to their wall. In turn, we bought a new desk, and separate bookcase, and so a mandatory rearrangement occurred. It actually looked pretty good, to tell the truth.
When I sauntered into retirement, therefore, last summer, I cleared out the tall imposing steel file cabinet, and switched the arrangement of the other pieces into a completely different setting. Just right, and another rearrangement. I was pretty well satisfied with how things looked – until now, as I am approaching the one-year anniversary of my fourth life, leaving work behind permanently. So, here’s the thing: I have a lot of “stuff” in my office. Also, with clearing out Moms house, taking a number of pieces of furniture and about a half million knick knacks, and then carrying home from Grafton a significant number of boxes that used to be at the farm, but now belong exclusively to Cheri – well, let’s just admit that things may indeed look a bit more cluttered than before. And out of arrangement. I mean, my model of the Saturn V rocket is stretched out above one bookcase/tv shelf, and the model of the International Space Station is across the room on top of another bookshelf. What is next to the Saturn V, you ask? Well, it just so happens that the three Norwegian gnomes (and not cute ones) that Dad bought Mom for their 25th anniversary in 1974 found their way there when I brought them back from Texas. In terms of matching genre, gnomes and rockets don’t go together well. Plus, they also are grouped next to the Major Matt Mason Space Station that our boys gave me to rekindle my childhood memories. The other space station? It is nestled next to the five-gallon stoneware water cooler on top of the bookshelf.
You can easily tell, therefore, that after a year, it pretty well points to the need for the introduction of another round of rearranging fever. So, I’m first packing away my collection of antique wooden spoons, which opens up and entire shelf. I’ll then move the gnomes, eventually giving them the perch beside the water cooler, and flying the space station over between Matt Mason and Saturn V. It’s all rather delicate, and I’m glad we won’t need special permits or such. Eventually, the model of the US Capitol and the White House, along with the Lunar Landing Module, will end up in the open bookshelf, leaving the marble top commode open to having a different display of some sort – yet to be determined.
You can see by now, how rearranging fever requires a great deal of intentionality, in some ways to overcome the accidental placement of “stuff” in a room. It should look pretty nice and even arranged when all is said and done. Then we can begin to figure out where to hang the four new art prints I found this past weekend…
Word for the day: salutary. Pronounced SAL-you-tarry. It shoots all the way back to the Latin, salus, meaning “good health.” When something is “salutary,” it means it adds to or promotes someone’s personal or social well-being. That could be physical well-being, in which case a good meal, or a nice nap both offer a salutary effect. It could also be financial, or even just how the community functions better in more health. I’ve often taught that there are some people, that when they simply walk into a room, the room gets healthier. They are indeed salutary individuals. The word also carries the root of the word, “salute,” in which someone is greeted, wishing them good health. The Spanish say, “salud,” and the Italians say “salute,” with both offering the toast of good health or blessings.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.