People are peculiar creatures, God love us. When my beloved Uncle Marvin died many years ago, we found shoe box after shoe box of ink pens that mostly didn’t work, and enough flashlights to illuminate a small village during a hurricane. Cleaning out my parent’s home of fifty-five years with my brother six years ago, we agreed on what to do with almost everything.
Honoring my father’s request to clear the way for the sale of their home, my brother and I got stuck in the process down in the basement. Standing in front of a series of metal shelves in my Dad’s workshop, we shifted on first one foot and then the other. We both knew that the other wanted what we wanted. You would think the shelves were lined with gold for all our angst. But no, the treasure lining those basement shelves was simply dozens of rocks: big rocks, little rocks, beautiful well-formed rocks, quartz crystals and petrified wood.
When we were little kids, there wasn’t much money to go around. Family vacations meant camping and picnics with ham sandwiches made on sticky park benches in small towns along the way. We couldn’t afford fancy motels or restaurants, tourist traps with entrance fees, or souvenirs. We collected what we could to remember this precious family time: rocks. We stood together, my brother and me, telling stories. Each of us wanted to take home these reminders of who we were and where we had been.
As the people of God, we share this tendency toward peculiarity. We collect stories about how God has been with us through this or that. We read the Bible to remember the stories of those who have preceded us. We recall that other flashlights have illumined our way through various dark nights, and other rocks have marked our trails when we’ve been unsure about the road ahead.
I’m curious about what evidence our children will find of the peculiarity of our faith when that day comes. I hope the remains of our lives will tell a story of faithfulness towards God and love of neighbor.
On that day in the basement, I gave my brother the rocks, because I promised my mother we’d never fight about stuff. As it turns out, my brother promised my mother the same thing. Six months later, he paid a lot of postage to ship them half way across the country back to me.
Prayer: God of heaven and earth, remind us this day of essential things. Help us to let go of that which we do not need, and to hold lightly all that we have received. Create in us new stories of faith, that our lives may honor you and one another in all ways. Amen
God’s grace, mercy, and peace,
Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland