Sunday, June 3, 2012

what we come back to

my number is 3, 281.  what's yours?

that is not my sleep number.  it is not my house number.  nor is it my daily caloric intake (at least i don't think it is).  that is (no, scratch that-- that was) the number of emails in my inbox at summer's start this week.  ridiculous? excessive? clutterer? keeper? hoarder? holder?  i am not exactly sure what this number says, maybe nothing at all.  maybe just that i am busy mom, in a busy season,  who looks at a lot of different pieces and parts in her life and says, "i'll come back to that."  that's what i think it mostly says.  "i will come back." sure i know how to delete.  i can purge and refine.  extract and remove.  but mostly, i am a woman who wants to come back. to revisit. to return.

maybe it is tied to my inability to let go.  i have lots of things which i find difficult to part with.  an odd assortment of items stored clandestine-like in my home. you wouldn't know it from a mere scratch of the surface,  it would require a friend to go deep. but that's the beauty of life:  to truly know and be known, you must make the effort and assign the time for some old fashioned digging.  i like my countertops empty and my refrigerator pared down, but if you go looking, you'll find who i really am:  a woman who holds things.  perhaps not from first glance, but once inside, you'll meet a collector and keeper of treasure -- or at least her version of treasure.

you might disagree with the things that i keep.  there's something to be said for the old adage, "one man's trash is another man's treasure."  indeed.  i am always fascinated by the things people hold on to.  if you ever choose to leave me unattended in your home, be advised, it is quite possible i might do some looking.  my manners will keep me from opening up doors and drawers, but i do want to know what's on your shelves --  what's displayed on your end tables and bookcases and walls.  the unique bits and pieces of you.  what do you keep? what things do you hold?

i am a keeper of ...

glass jars. i love to take labels off pickle and jelly jars and store them for something in the future.  paint samples or homemade salad dressing or colorful buttons. something empty and clean for the filling of beauty or business, whichever comes first.
flowers.  i will press them before i will part with them.  once, i carelessly picked up my bible at a women's study and dried flowers fell from the pages scattering at everyone's feet. a friend sitting close laughed and asked, "what in the world, jody, do you have a garden hiding in there?" what a wonderful thing to say about my bible. yes, indeed, my paper-like garden. 
photos.  i won't even begin to tell you the number of albums in my home. i take pictures.  look at pictures.  love pictures. anyone who knows me, easily knows this.
ribbon.  i am pretty sure we have every color, style, width and variation ever created.  i remove them from my packages and store, save, reuse.  i keep meaning to clean out my ribbon bin (and i do mean bin), but there is something about it all tangled colorfully together --  a messy rainbow in clear plastic.
words.  it goes without saying.  anything and everything someone writes to me gets saved.  magic marker messages from my kids, the husband's quick reminders and love notes left by the morning coffee pot, emails and cards. quick notes. long letters.  i keep them, one and all. perhaps this explains the awful state of my email inbox.

you never know what you'll need.  we can't imagine what we'll have to come back to.  and murphy's law or my law, the truth is, as soon as we discard...we'll certainly be in need of that very item.  sigh.  it has happened to me three times already today.

i'm not saying it isn't good to pare down.  it is. we absolutely need to be saavy editors of the things which distract and clutter.  and let's be honest, there's nothing quite like a good healthy purge, a thorough spring cleaning.  but isn't it lovely to also have things to hold on to? things to come back to?  as i was deleting my way through my 3,281 emails this weekend, i came across a few messages from friends in these past two years. (yes..two years).  and in the middle of my massive extraction, i took some time to catch up, answer, reply and reach out.  these were items and people not expecting a further response, but i came back to them and it felt right to revisit.  that too is a treasure.  we can't do it always or often...but occasionally it works. and occasionally we feel rich with the opportunity to circle back around to something once sweet.

these things we keep and these places to which we return are an inexplicable part of who we are.  they are part of our heart, part of what makes us human.  and maybe it's the upcoming move or maybe it's just my own silly version of a lowly mid-life crisis, but there's a tiny bit in me who wants to know clearly what i treasure and what i'll come back to.  as we consider moving away from the things we've held dear, i cannot be certain that we'll ever physically come back.  of course, there's a deep part of me which might want this.  i felt the same way about ohio, when i left my childhood state 14 years ago.  we haven't returned with a mailing address or a local phone number, but we did come back.  just last summer i wrote a piece while visiting my parents for a few days up in ohio. (  and i am reminded of that this morning as i scratch out these same old, somewhat tired, thoughts.

but i do think God has designed us to return.  whether we be prodigal sons or unfaithful daughters.  whether we are busy moms or distracted fathers, God seems to always leave a window wide and a light warm.  even in the hardest of situations, i have watched God make a way to return. a return to health or peace or joy or places or people. a return to Him.  even in the midst of painful circumstance and passionate resistance, God is there working and wooing and creating a way.  God, the Restorer and Redeemer, oh how He loves a wandering returner.

"for I am about to do something new. see, I have already begun! 
do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. 
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." ~ isaiah 43:19

and oh how i love that promise.  "I will make a pathway through the wilderness."  loved one, what is your wilderness?  i know we all have them.  hard marriages, damaged friendships, loneliness, financial ruin, compromised health, lost children, broken bits of life...God's open arms are for each of us, all of us.  God's promise is for those who journey in dry places.  "I will make a pathway through the wilderness."  not i might, but I WILL.  it is His promise to all who wander, to all who want to return. 

"for thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “in returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”  ~ isaiah 30:15

i don't know if i'll ever get my inbox completely cleaned out.  i have been religiously deleting each day -- but it surely is a two steps forward and one step backward kind situation.  because this is the sway of life.  and though sometimes life feels like an, out and out, marathon, i prefer to think of it more as a dance.  two steps forward and one step back.  by no means a smooth waltz, but a waltz just the same.  a giving and taking.  forward and back. we come and we go.  we hold tight, we offer up. we gather, we give.
we leave, we return.

because we are His.  because we are held. because He is holy.


Leslie R. said...

Jody - I can't wait until we can talk face to face...until then I will save some email space.

3 John 2-14

2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth...

...13 I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

Aus said...

Morning Jody - I do so enjoy your insights - and they are 'insights' - little peeks into you and us - and maybe even the "whys" of life. Thanks....

hugs - aus and co.

ajbsandme said...

Not that it really matters, but we take the labels off of jars and use them as glasses - satisfies me need to recycle and saves money since we no longer have to repurchase glasses when some get broken over the years.

Love your insights.