Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 | Author:

We’ve just returned from a few days in Massachusetts.  My mother-in-law is not capable of living alone anymore, so we did our part to help sort out and empty her apartment.   It’s a very small apartment in a senior complex, so there really wasn’t all that much – at least in comparison to when she moved from the house where she lived most of her adult life.

She was a librarian, so you’ll understand that much of what we sorted was books.  She not only has books, she has books about books.  And they were in large and small bookcases, cupboards, baskets, and most any nook or cranny.

I’m not complaining.  I have a fair stash of books myself, and this trip added some nice history books and classics to my collection.  I foresee good summer reading ahead.

My husband acquired “the Finnish books.”  There are books about Finland, where my mother-in-law’s family came from, and books written in Finnish.  If you want to know anything about saunas, for instance, including how to pronounce the word properly (it has 3 syllables),  just ask.

And then there are the photos – albums and albums of photos, meticulously labeled and organized over the years. While I was glad to take the one of my husband’s childhood, the rest will be stored in my sister-in-law’s closet.

As I think of my mother’s photo collection, and even my own, I wonder, really, why we scrupulously save these things.  Will my kids or grandkids really want pictures of my high school friends?  Or my hiking photos from the Adirondacks? Or that play we did at church?  Will I be leaving behind treasures or things they will feel obligated to keep?

I think it’s time to do some sorting and tossing.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

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5 Responses
  1. Rebecca says:

    I wish I had more photos and records and stories of my past. I had basically no family, no heritage, nothing. I’ve done my own digging and found that some ancestors of mine made covenants with God and each other. According to God, future generations are expected to maintain these covenants. How can they be maintained if they are not passed down somehow?

    Maybe some future family members will feel obligated to keep your photos and such, but I bet that some will cherish it. They will remember you as a woman who dedicated her life to God, lived her life, and passed on that heritage to her future descendants. These things are worth remembering.

    I don’t see photos and records as treasures that replace God because they exist or are retained. They are documentation of the past. Sure, people can “treasure” anything… a TV, a book, whatever. But people need history, they need to know where they came from. Take it from me, from someone who has been bereft of family, of roots, of any heritage. I think God places value on heritage; the Old Testament is filled with it, and the New Testament is the revelation of it.

  2. Jim Wetzel says:

    If you want to know anything about saunas, for instance, including how to pronounce the word properly (it has 3 syllables), just ask.

    Well, maybe I’ll take a guess: sah-ooh-na?

    I know us Midwesterners say saw-nuh. Since that has but two syllables, it can’t be correct.

    So now I’m asking: how is “sauna” supposed to be pronounced?

  3. Hubby says:

    Close, Jim.

    What my family told me: Finnish is an iambic language. The major accent is ALWAYS on the FIRST syllable, and lesser accents on the odd syllables following. I’ve been told that the rhythm of the national epic “Kalevela” is the same as Longfellow’s poem “Song of Hiawatha.” In addition, there are no silent letters; every letter is pronounced. And each letter always has only one pronunciation. It’s nothing like English.

    So sauna is SAH ooh Na. And the capital is HELL sink Ee, not Hell SINK ee.

  4. akagaga says:

    @Rebecca I guess God really does deal with each of us as individuals.

    But people need history, they need to know where they came from.

    For myself, I think that being comfortable in my natural heritage at least contributed to the fact that it took me 39 years to realize I needed God, and to find my real identity in Christ.

    @Jim Give the man a prize! Us New Yorkers saw saw-nuh, too, and my husband has yet to break me of it, try as he might.

  5. akagaga says:

    @Jim See! Even when I think I’ve got it right … I STILL don’t have it right. I put up my response before I saw Hubby’s, or I wouldn’t look so silly. :)