With the arrival of spring, I entered my closet one morning anticipating luxurious freedom for my toes. I pulled out my favorite sandals, then gasped and stared in disbelief. Mildew! How could this be? Nothing like this had ever happened before.
Other shoes were infected. A couple of leather coats showed the white film as well. So I did what we all do these days when we have a problem, I researched Google. Google informed me that mildew can be treated with either a mild detergent or vinegar and water. One blog insisted that the whole closet needed to be cleared. I groaned but decided I might as well do some intense spring cleaning.
It took me two weeks go through everything (I have a large closet.) I decided to get rid of as much as possible. However, this goal clashed with my sentimental self. Favorite clothes I had not worn in years reminded me of my youth. How could I get rid of those pieces? New clothes I’d hardly worn in skinnier sizes represented hope of reaching and maintaining that goal weight.
There was the going-away outfit my mother had worn on her wedding day in 1955. There was the never-used Japanese tea set my aunt gave me when I got married. There were German books from my childhood, all my sons’ toys I am saving for those elusive grandchildren . . .
The cleaning project gave me a lot of time to reflect. I remembered the time an elderly friend wanted to give me her dilapidated organ and how painful it was to refuse her. As we age, we can lose sight of the true value of our treasures.
I’ve heard horror stories around disposing of an estate after both parents have passed. Not only can it bring on disputes between family members, the sheer amount of work required is often exhausting. I helped one of my friends with this process. As we sorted, organized, and discarded, she shook her head in disbelief saying, “All I can think about is how hard my parents worked to get these things, and no one values them or cares.” She was even more shocked when revenues from the estate sale brought in far less than she expected.
My closet got me asking some hard questions. Have I invested too much meaning in things that no one else will value after I am gone? Where have I unwittingly tangled up my identity with what I own instead of whose I am? Would I gladly give up all my stuff in order to keep the “Pearl of Great Price”?
As I began returning things to my emptied closet, I also purged my jewelry. A beautiful necklace with a mother of pearl inlay, one of my most expensive pieces and rarely worn, had corroded. Truly, Jesus said it well, Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourself treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-20).
Prayer: Lord, open our eyes to entanglements and strengthen our resolve to renounce earth, preferring to lay up riches in heaven. For You are the most cherished treasure of our hearts, incorruptible and shining forever. Amen.