When in the course of moving all sorts of stuff around to make room for other stuff that we recently brought back from Cheri’s mom’s place in Grafton – dressers, bookcases, tables, trunks, pie safes and etc. – you know, the typical stuff that at our age we need/want to bring into our home that is already nicely full with everything we have accumulated for over 40 years, it of course meant, especially downstairs, that things that were nicely in place needed to be moved. Some things, like furniture already taking up prime spots, had to shifted and carried across the room, so as to not make the place look like a furniture store (one of Cheri’s most hated descriptions…).
Of course, in order to move some things, it required unloading drawers and cupboards and shelves of tons of things (literally, tons) that, when we moved in the place in 2015 we stored in the most convenient places we could “for now,” truly believing we would go through them at some later point and find better places to stash them. What complicated things even more was that Cheri moved from her townhome that we rented as the first unloading, and then I came along about a month later, after she had nicely put things in place all over the house, giving no thought whatsoever as to where the houseful of “stuff” that I had would find its place through the front door. I actually think that’s where the “put it there for now” mentality took hold. We were reasonably satisfied that the things were mostly put away, i.e., out of sight, and went on to live our lives for the next six years.
Well, after Mom died, and we cleared out her house, I did manage to put as much as possible in the back of my Mazda CX-5, where I carried a marble top dresser, a shaker stand, an old shelf, and piles and boxes of truly valuable – hard to actually estimate – items like some of the wooden blocks I played with as a boy and a metal cookie tin from Australia. Truly valuable. As those things made their way into the house, most of them took a right turn and ended up in my office, which went from nicely appointed to “holy cow! Look at all that stuff!”
So, when we brought home the items from Cheri’s life, it was similar to filling a glass to the rim with water, and then deciding that it certainly could take another cup or so, which then gives one the opportunity to get out the absorbent dish towel and mop up the mess.
The overflow from Cheri’s family’s contribution for some reason ended up in my office. Hmmm. Strange how that happened. I even ended up with a great 8-drawer dresser being deposited where my file cabinet used to be. The propitious (great word that I love to use… it means favorable or fortunate) occurrence, however, meant that I now had 8 more places to put things. Yippee.
One of the items that traveled north out of basement into my room was a huge box of DVDs that we had pretty much forgotten about, that we used to watch nearly continually about 10 years ago. We are now reconsidering whether to take another turn at them, if I can get Cheri to actually stop moving for an hour or so when she is home from work…
The other interesting item that was piled on top of the DVDs was a heavy, solid state portable cassette player, circa 1979. I know it was 1979, because that’s when I bought it. I would tape and replay my sermons as I was starting out, and the used it for any cassette that came along. It had a power cord, of course, but it could also run on four giant “D” batteries, which made the thing weigh twice as much. I stood there holding the player, and then without thinking, I pushed the play button. There was no cassette in the thing, but to my surprise, it started running. Those huge batteries had gone without being tapped for I’m sure a good 20 years, at least, and here they were, running as strong as the day I put them in the player. Amazing.
All of that brings me to today’s issue. When “they” say, “They don’t make things like they used to!”, I can fully concur. On one hand, exhibit A – the cassette player. On the other hand, exhibits B, C and D. Of course, those are the up-to-date, modern powered devices that have swallowed up my time in recent years. I’m talking about my cell phone, my IPad, and my Apple Watch. They are all very nice items to use, except for one thing: they all have weeny little batteries inside, that have no guts, no lasting power and need constant… and I mean constant… recharging for them to work. Usually, they peter out and warn me that their little baby batteries need to be plugged in right at the time when I am needing to rely on them to be big boys and girls and just gut it out, and give me power right now…
At this very moment, all three of the devices are “plugged in,” which is code word for unable to be used until their teeny, weeny batteries get some juice flowing back into them. Now, it’s not that I am one of those 24-hour device user – no, in fact, I’ll spend most of my days not even paying attention to them, which is probably why they decide to start crying and complaining that they have no battery power left in them…
I’ve begun to call them “the disappointments,” and I know I can’t rely on them for much of anything. Living in our world today, I know I need at least one or two of them, but I almost want to place them next to the cassette player, and say, “SEE! This is how you do battery! You don’t hear it complaining! It’s not getting recharged! You should model your life after this big boy and stop wimping out at the drop of a hat!”
Of course, these are all inanimate objects, and they frankly could care less about what some other thing is doing. And I know that the manufacturers tell us every year, when a new model comes out, how the battery life is so much better and so much longer, and it will only cost you another $1000 to not have to plug it in so often…
So, let’s move from inanimate objects, to us. The truth is, I must confess that there are times in my life when I guess I act more like the disappointments, than the old workhorse of a cassette player. Like all of us, so often we “can’t” do something until all the dials are turned on just right in our lives. A friend of mine once said, “If you don’t want to do something, any contingency will do.” We often shy away from the significant, yet hard things we are called to do in life. In an argument, are we the first to offer our apologies? In a project, of whatever it is, do we usually take the path that is more difficult, but creates a better outcome, or do we perhaps cut corners, let fundamental things slide because “it’s too hard…”?
You and I both know that life can drain our batteries, leaving us nearly powerless and too tired and without imagination to carry on. Yet, it is in that moment, when we are able, and willing to reach down deep and pick up the hard work, shoulder the yoke and be the one to make the path through a murky and messy time, that we show our true character, and our true reliance on the power of the Spirit to not just get by, but to thrive and do what our world needs, and what God invites us to do, whether we feel like we have enough energy or not. In that moment as well, we find significance in what we are called to do, and in that significant life, we come to know joy itself in a deeper and more powerful way.
I guess recharge when you need to, but don’t get seduced into the talk of having to always “take care of self first.” What happens with that, is that the person often will stop at that step, and forget the world around her or him needs so much more, that we have the power to offer.
Have a great and significant day.
Word for the day: gossamer. Pronounced GOSS-uh-mer. We’ve heard this word before, and perhaps used it, too. We’ve heard the poem that refers to “gossamer wings” written by Jude Kyrie. The word has Middle English roots, and is defined as the filmy cobweb that floats through the air in the country especially at autumn. It is light, delicate, extremely fine and almost tenuous. Some believe it comes from the two word, gos, meaning “goose” and somer, meaning “summer.” It reminds the person seeing it of the way that goose down floats on the breeze, sort of like the feather in Forest Gump. However, we want to describe it, it is one of those most ethereal of things, that only captures our attention because it is so fine.
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.