Friday, September 26, 2008

Lessons from a dumpster

Today is for later. I am aware that makes little sense. But it is true. Stick with me.

I just spent the last 60 hours packing up a house that my family lived in for 15 years. This is the last time I am going to write about it. The experience has taught me some things that I have to put into print lest I forget them. This seems like the logical place. If they are helpful to you in anyway, you are welcome to them. If not, well, try

I filled a dumpster (8 ft X 6ft X 5ft) with the debris collected over 15 years of living in a house raising kids. I cannot believe the things that I threw away. I cannot believe how totally ruthless I became in deciding what was to stay and what was to go. In the end we still filled the largest truck U-Haul rents out. Today it is all in the basement of some of our best friends on the planet. They are saving me thousands of dollars in storage because that stuff will not fit into the one bedroom apartment in Ohio. Well, it would fit ... but we wouldn't.

I sat in front of open drawers and tried to sift through the little objects we all save thinking that we cannot live without them. It is the "stuff of our lives." Well, guess what. We can live without them. They are keepsakes. Tokens of memories. They tug at our hearts reminding us of how good things were. The precious nature of shared events. The profound meaning of a moment in time that we so want to freeze ... and cannot.

Here is what I learned this week.

I love my family. I loved each of them the moment I met them. And since those moments the love has, in each instance, deepened. Without my family I am not certain that there would be anything left of me. Oh, I would still have a body and a brain and obligations. But the essence of "me" is tied up in "them." If you do not have family ... what do you have?

I love my friends. So many came to our aid this week. They packed and they hauled and they fed us and they prayed over us. Our friends carried us this week. They did not have to. They chose to. It's a love thing. If you do not have friends ... what do you have?

I love my God. He has been pretty silent this week. But He has not missed a moment. He paid for it all. He kept reminding me that "stuff" is simply that. Stuff. Perishable things. He places bandages on my past wounds and keeps pointing to a future where there are no moving trucks or boxes or expendable stuff or even Duck Tape. If you do not know God ... what do you have?

I really don't know what else to say. I am so sleepy that I could doze off at this keyboard. My knees creak and groan from the weight they have borne. I suppose I am trying to understand the twists and turns that life has taken. And I have nearly reached the conclusion that I never will understand them. How do you come to understand life? Life is not meant to be understood it is meant to be lived. Navigated. Conquered.

When I was in my late teens I went to a movie on a gloomy Saturday afternoon. It was a "war" movie. Lots of tanks and bombs and soldiers. I walked from a dark and depressing afternoon into the a movie theatre that left you wanting to cheer for the good guy but with the certain impression that victory against evil would never fully be achieved. As I left the theatre I stepped out the same doors I had come in through. The early evening that I found stood in stark contrast with the afternoon I had left behind. The clouds had given way to bright sunshine and a brilliantly blue sky. The air was fresh and clean from recent rains. I felt fresh and clean too, very glad to put away both the gloomy day and the chilling movie.

Life brings pain. The two are synonymous. You will not get through it without feeling its sting. And I guess every life is littered with dumpsters. That is just the way it works. Some are physical dumpsters that sit in a driveway and collect the refuse of years of living. Some are emotional dumpsters that plant themselves as deeply into our minds and hearts as we will let them, collecting feelings and thoughts that you just cannot carry any longer. But there is good news. We are not "home" yet. My faith in Jesus Christ reminds me that someday I will walk out from under the gloom that the days on this planet can bring and into the brilliant sunlight of ... my Father's House. And we will take up residence there with Him. LIfe at Home with Dad. We will not need drawers for token memories because all will be a glorious "now." There will be no more jet planes taking me away from those I love. There will be no more craving for one more hug from precious little arms. There will be no more broken or bruised relationships.

And there will not be one dumpster. Ever.


Anonymous said...

Well if you want some of those things from your dumpster just come to our house! Alec had a blast dumpster diving! You guys were great neighbors, We will miss you so much,especially Chris singing at 3 in the morning! Please stay in touch!

Ron said...

No thanks, Jamie! They are all yours!

But we did give Chris away two weeks ago too. He now is 1/2 of "Mr & Mrs Christopher Woods." Amazing how time flies ...