When I was little, my sister and I liked to go into the crawl space which was the attic in our house. We found many treasures such as my father’s violin which we broke because we didn’t know how to handle it with the care it deserved. Even though my father was unhappy with our snooping and reckless behavior we couldn’t stop ourselves from going back to the crawl space to see what else was hiding there waiting to be discovered.
Attics have always been fascinating places filled with everything from old toys, old furniture, old keepsakes to letters and mementos. A couple of weeks ago my wife, Jean, decided it was time to pull some boxes out of our attic and start sorting through what was in them to see if there was anything worth keeping in those boxes.
As I sat in the living room while she sat in the kitchen sorting through the boxes I heard her bursting into laughter as she read a humorous letter from one of her children or one of our friends. Soon she was bringing those letters into the living room so I could read them too.
And then it dawned on me that she had done a most wonderful thing. As I read old Christmas letters it became a timeline of our children growing up, our parents growing old and dying, our lives changing as we moved from parish ministry to chaplain ministry in a hospital setting. As I reread old articles I had written for our Institutional Ministries newsletter I called to mind people I had forgotten who had touched me deeply at the time I had visited them.
As I looked at these materials with Jean it struck me how much has happened in our lives in the years we have been together. In our family and in our extended families, in our work and in our experiences with so many different kinds of people, we have been blessed in countless ways. I had forgotten many of those blessings until Jean and I once again looked at the cards and letters and mementos and realized we were holding precious treasures in our hands.
I remember Jerry Seinfeld saying to a car rental agent in one of his programs, “You know how to take a reservation but you don’t know how to hold a reservation.” I think we know how to save letters and papers and mementos we just don’t know how to find the time to drag out the boxes and find the treasures that are there ready to warm our hearts and revive our spirits when life gets us down.
Thank you Jean, for digging out our treasures. Follow Jean’s example all of you with attics full of boxes. May you find many good treasures of how you have been blessed by people and by opportunities to be a blessing to others. May we never forget that our lives are made up of thousands of moments and blessings that can create a river as broad and deep as the Mississippi.