Rev. Nancy's Blog

Contemplating the Box

The cardboard packing box, carefully labeled with permanent marker long since faded, has resided in the back of a closet for more years than I care to count. The sealing tape falls off with a light touch, its sticking power faded like the marker.

Solomon Eagle’s message last month about “lightening the load” gave voice to the energies many of us are feeling [link below]. I’m not alone in experiencing recurrent bouts of spelunking into dark recesses of closets, cabinets, and the other places we stuff things to deal with later. Not surprising, postcards announcing pickup days by local nonprofit agencies seeking “gently used” clothing and household items seem to arrive more often.

This box has survived previous rounds of household load-lightening. There’s a reason for that. It holds memories. Pulling open those dry cardboard flaps is like opening Pandora’s Box. Faded photos salvaged from parents’ homes, some labeled in thin script but most not. (We always promise ourselves we’ll remember, won’t we?) Postcards from trips taken (“remember when we went to ….”). The collage painstakingly assembled by our son in third grade, with “I love you, Mom” carefully lettered. Still-bright watercolor abstracts by our daughter when she was in kindergarten. Certificates of appreciation for volunteer work over the years. All brittle around the edges now.

Adult sons and daughters have little room for these treasures, and perhaps don’t regard them as treasures. “Oh Mom, you’re still keeping that?” Yes, I’m still keeping that. I remember the day you brought it home from school, so proud of the beauty you’d created. It’s that moment I hold. The paper is but a key to the doorway of memory. Sons and daughters fill their own boxes of treasures.

A few of the items are free of memories. They were stuffed into the box for lack of a better place to put them. Kept because perhaps there would be a use for them later. No, apparently not. Those are easy to release.

The rest lie spread across the floor for a few days, filling the room with a swirl of memories of another time, another stage of life. Their Velcro cling is stronger than my desire to release them. Another time, maybe, but not now. Given the respite of exposure to fresh air, some new padding, a few photos labeled, most return to the box. They survive unscathed another round of load-lightening.

I make up for it by tackling the box of filing on my office floor. Many papers found their way into the filing box because I didn’t know where to put them. Time takes care of such questions, diminishing the value of those papers just as time has increased the value of my memories. It’s easy to release outdated things and those I won’t use, just as it’s easy to pass on extra pots and pans, household goods, and clothes no longer worn.

Solomon Eagle said that attachments weigh us down. He stressed the willingness to release “Attachments of all kinds – things, beliefs, attitudes, habits, practices, …. What do you really need?”

Well, Solomon, I know I don’t need a lot of stuff. I release that. I’m examining my beliefs, attitudes, habits and practices. I notice shifts in my perceptions. The things that hold keys to memories, though, I still hold dear.

It’s all process, and I’m a work in progress.

Link to Solomon Eagle’s message: