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Taking Care of Stuff

Years ago the now-deceased comedian, George Carlin, created a hilarious skit about “Stuff.” I can relate to the material. Tomorrow a rodent control business is coming to give us a free estimate on corralling the critters in our attic. I need to order filters for my shower and replace one on the furnace. The rugs should be cleaned again and the driveway is due for a pressure wash. A strange tear in the lining of one of my car doors needs attention and that requires a visit across town. Besides keeping track of the next oil change, tire rotations, and a few car washes. I grow weary of the use of my time to care for things. I would prefer to spend the precious days, months and years that I have left, caring for people and pursuing talents and relationships.

Not that my things don’t assist me in those endeavors. I use my car to get to people. I use my appliances to feed myself and family members. And I do get exhausted from caring about or for family, friends and clients. Yet my patience is growing thin about stuff. When I add up the time spent each year pricing, evaluating and shopping for appliances and services, along with waiting at home or in businesses for repairs, I am disgusted. I’m tired of babysitting possessions.

A few years ago I started yearning to downsize — get rid of things and space that isn’t necessary. Hurricanes, disasters, and terrorism remind us of what is really worth saving. Since then the “Foodie” in me acquired an electric ice cream maker, a pannini grill, a raclette grill, and some other gadgets. My children’s former bedrooms are filling with stuff that doesn’t fit in the other shelves and rooms of the house. I routinely sort through clothes and household goods to set out for the charities that provide pick-up service. The battle continues on controlling accumulation, the disease of Western consumer life.

All of this stuff may be part of the reason that fiction Amish stories are so popular in Christian book stores. We used to read the Little House on the Prairie stories and muse about the hard but simple life of bygone times. So in my fantasy world, sometimes I see myself in a little cabin among a pine forest with Internet service and a good shopping mall about one hour away. Indoor plumbing with hot water would be a must, along with my washer and dryer, a good stove, music and lots of books.

Perhaps this is another sign of my chronology. Each year is now a schedule of health maintenance appointments for various personal body parts, plus occasional unmanageable sicknesses or emergencies. And those for the dog. I fail to brush his teeth. The precious sand of time seems to be sliding ominously faster in the hour glass of each year.

Stewardship of my time, space, and health is a challenge that I want to pray about in the New Year. We joke that as file space in the mind is filled, some things fall away. I must be intentional about saving space and time in my life for the most valuable. There isn’t room for all the stuff, in my life my house, my heart. This year I will save space and time for Jesus Christ and those who mean the most to me?

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

1. If you have five minutes to collect your most important possessions, what would you take with you?

2. If you knew that in a few months your money would be worthless, how would you spend it now?

Karen Spruill writes from Orlando, Florida.

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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