March 2, 2018

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Fill your heart with what’s important, be done with all the rest

Patti LambThe St. Joseph statue is buried in our yard, and there’s a sign in the ground. It’s official: Our house is for sale.

Our home has been a blessing in many ways these past 12 years. We have incredible neighbors that we consider friends, and we live in a place that both of our fathers helped to build. We’ve had the extra room to host special events like bridal showers and milestone birthday parties. We were even able to host family members when they needed a place to stay for months at a time.

But life has revealed to us that it’s time to find a smaller place to call home. And when we got serious about putting the house on the market, I had a revelation about “stuff,” and how we have too much of it. When we finally started going through closets and cabinets, we encountered boxes we hadn’t unpacked since our last move.

Serious purging was in order. I’m embarrassed to admit how much space I’ve been devoting to storing various holiday decorations. We actually had to rent a storage unit in order to make the house “show ready.”

Although I want to live lighter and less tethered, I have a hard time letting go of objects with sentimental value.

One evening when I was overwhelmed from a day of decluttering and cleaning, I took a break and grabbed a few devotional books. I came across a verse from the second chapter of Luke’s Gospel that helped me find some peace with letting go of “things.”

Two times in Luke’s second chapter—once upon the birth of Jesus and once upon finding Jesus in the temple after an anxious search for him—he wrote “Mary kept all these things in her heart” (Lk 2:51).

That line struck me. That’s where I should be keeping precious memories, images and words of encouragement. I should collect moments and store them in my heart.

I don’t need boxes full to the brim to remind me of every important occasion. Those moments can be kept in my heart.

My mind flashed back to a homily in which a witty missionary told the congregation that he’s never seen a hearse with a U-haul attached to it. His message was that we can’t take it all with us.

I finally found the strength to let go of some things while still “keeping” them. A book I read—I can’t remember the title—encouraged me to “bless and release” sentimental items. The author said to hold the item in my hands, remember the gracious giver fondly, say a prayer of thanks for them, and release the object back into the world so that new memories can be made.

Moving forward, it’s our goal to travel lighter, but with full hearts. We want to live intentionally, knowing that we don’t really keep anything or take it with us into eternity. As we all know, the most important things aren’t things. What’s most meaningful is love that’s shared.

Our hope is to live more purposefully and be more about collecting memories than things. We want to have more time to spend together as a family, and less time mopping hardwood floors and dusting the collections of Legos and serving trays and books we’ve curated.

When I shared these thoughts with a friend recently, she texted me a beautiful painting of this phrase: “So fill your heart with what’s important and be done with all the rest.”

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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