40-Day Challenge: Keepsake (Day 16)

Begin with Prayer of Abandonment.

I was well into adulthood — over thirty, in fact — before I had acquired enough “stuff” to need a moving van. Up until that time, everything I owned in the world would fit in the back of my Toyota: a large box of books, another of kitchen equipment, and some clothes and linens. Oh, and one more thing: a large gray suitcase full of memorabilia. Old letters and pictures, yearbooks, t-shirts, scrapbooks, awards, report cards and diplomas, and a Mason jar full of dried flower blossoms from every corsage and bouquet I had ever received. Most of it had no real value to anyone but me, but that suitcase always made the cut of “essentials” when I moved from one place to the next.

One of the most interesting revelations of married life, however, is the fact that my tendency to hold on to tangible reminders of people and events has declined remarkably since Craig and the kids. Sure, I take pictures and save special pieces of the kids’ artwork . . .  I’ve also acquired a significant number of old photographs from his side of the family to add to my “rogue’s gallery.” But it’s been years since I cracked open that old suitcase in the basement. It’s not that I want to forget my life before Craig . . . It’s just that I’m so focused on the present, there doesn’t seem to be time to dig through old pieces of paper in order to stroll down memory lane.

What I have now is much better: a built-in audience, eager to hear stories of “back then.” The time Grandma made me eat the baked beans I didn’t eat for supper, for breakfast. The day Daddy waded into the Huron River to retrieve my puppy’s favorite ball. The time I found a strange man in the back seat of my car the year I lived in Africa. Other stories are recycled as plot lines in the bedtime stories of “Mini-kaka Island” and “Lake Riki-tiki.”

One of the things I love most about the Catholic tradition is the tendency to honor the “stuff” of memories. Sacraments, relics, prayer cards, rosaries and other sacramentals . . . Not to mention the liturgical calendar in which the life of the Church is lived in a perpetual spiral, always moving into the unknown future through familiar seasons, each with its own traditions. These traditions create texture in the quilt of family life.

How’s your quilt? Are you adding to it, replacing panels as needed to fit the chapters of your present life? Are you creating and recording your stories in a form that you will be able to share with your loved ones? How are your “keepsakes” being preserved for future generations?

Today’s challenge:  If you have not already done so, create a scrapbook for each family member, including important milestones such as sacrament celebrations, graduations, birthdays, and trips.

Today’s prayer:  God of my moments, past present and future, thank you for the relationships and experiences You have permitted  in my life. Give me the wisdom to sort the treasures of the past from the tools for the present. Set a watch before my heart, that nothing in my past will impede my journey at present or in the future. Amen!

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