Paul and I have lived in our house since 1984. I don’t know when it happened, but somehow the attic became filled beyond its capacity. I would like to blame the previous owners, but we had a requirement in our purchase agreement that they clear out all their stuff before we moved in.
We have been empty-nested for almost 20 years and could have cleaned out the area a long time ago. Instead, we quite often said, “Let’s just put it in the attic for now.” We also found ourselves saying, “I don’t know where that thing is, probably in the attic.”
To be clear, in the “Trash and Treasure” department, there was no treasure. If it was treasure, it didn’t go into the attic. What we had were remnants of childhoods, and not just our children’s childhoods. Our own early years were well represented as were those of our parents. Multi-generational photographs and yearbooks, fraternity and military memorabilia, collections of airplane models and stamps bulged from trunks and broken cardboard boxes. There was also plenty of adulthood material, bits and pieces from more than 40 years of our married life.
What better time than a quarantine to clean out the attic? The process began slowly, mostly on Saturday mornings. Down came my old Barbie doll collection, melty and yellowed from heat and age, and went straight into the garbage. The metal ice chest that weighed a ton empty — gone. Those old suitcases without wheels — big enough to pack a pony — went straight to Goodwill. It was like an archaeological dig, without the mummy but with plenty of dirt.
Recently we hit the strata of our children’s belongings. When the boys first left home I carefully packed up all the important things from their rooms. At the time I thought how easy it would be to ship these things off to them whenever they were ready. I took down the posters and wound them into manageable rolls. I boxed their lidded plastic prom cups including the long-dead boutonnieres. I wrapped all their trophies in newspaper and put them in boxes along with their medals and ribbons.
One Saturday, we brought it all down into the light of day. We removed the cups from their boxes, unrolled the posters and lined up the trophies in neat rows. We sent photos and videos of these priceless possessions to the owners and inquired about their interest. The response was, as they say, “crickets.” There was no interest, sentimental or otherwise. The boys are now filling their own attics, and their children are collecting their own posters and trophies.
As we tossed the debris into heavy duty trash bags, I thought about how it’s not things that make a memory. Items that remind us of a significant person or event in our lives are not needed to be held and touched to honor that memory. And for that reason, we are not being disloyal by letting go of objects that were important to people we love. The love endures whether or not we have a tangible reminder. Maybe that’s what the refrain addresses in The Old Rugged Cross:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it some day for a crown.
Slowly our attic is being cleared, layer by layer. The trophies are laid down – we really don’t need them.
But what about those cassette tapes…
Heavenly Father, I pray that, as long as we are able, we will commit our lives to Jesus, in grateful appreciation for the life He sacrificed for us on the cross. We know there will come a time when we realize we are done. We will have won some and lost some but did the best we could to live a life that was pleasing to you. Despite our stumbles along the way, by your grace, we will be blessed by an everlasting life in heaven.
Offered by Mary Thompson
Our devotionals are sent by email on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, with an occasional lagniappe issue. Please look for these congregation devotionals in your email box at about 6:45 a.m. If you’d like to sign up to receive our mailings, please click here.