Visiting the Past

In preparation for getting my house on the market, I have been doing quite a bit of “purging” lately. Some things are easy to let go of, some are not. I am a real book junkie and have (literally) hundreds of books in my home. I gave away about 100 books to our youth minister, whose organized wife probably cringed when he brought them home!  I have donated many to the thrift store, but still have four bookshelves full of books! Even though I now put many of my books on my Kindle, I still love the feel of opening a book and perusing it’s pages, awaiting the marvelous things I discover within.

But I digress. What really started my thoughts going today is going through my “keepsake” box. You know, the kind that several of you have hidden away in the basement or stuffed in a cedar chest, or maybe in a drawer. The smell of old papers wafted to my nose as I opened the box. And so began the assault on my memories.

All of my old yearbooks were in there.  When I opened my senior high school year, book, my good friend’s obituary fell out. She was tragically killed in a train accident the summer before our senior year.  She loved the Lord, had great compassion for people and a wicked sense of humor! She was also my first brush with the death of a peer, teaching me that life isn’t guaranteed, even for the young.

As ICollege days thumbed through my college days, I couldn’t help but think it was one of the most precious times in my life. It was at college that I truly discovered a deep, lasting relationship with my Savior.  From the teaching and example of my professors, to the wonderful, godly individuals I became friends with, my time there was a great growing experience for me. I still have many good friendships that have lasted since college.

Then I reached all of the diplomas for myself and my husband. 8th grade graduation, high school, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. All of them representing hard work and seasons of life.

Next were the graduation and wedding announcements of family and friends. Most of them I have stayed in touch with through the years. I reluctantly threw several of the invitations and programs in the recycle bin, not wanting my children to have to sort through them someday. It occurred to me that I didn’t need those pieces of paper and I would always have the fond memories of those occasions.

Articles I have written, awards I have received, programs from plays I’ve been in, a letter from President Nixon (which I almost threw away after his departure as President); they were all in the box. Some of them I recycled, some of them I kept, thinking my children might appreciate them someday.

But the things that touched my heart the most were the special notes and letters that touched my heart in countless ways. The note from a mom who thanked me for investing in her daughter’s life at a critical juncture in her search for faith; a note from the mother of my friend who died, who told me that of all the notes she received after Debbie’s death, mine had touched her the most and she would never forget it; a letter from a friend who thanked me for encouraging her in her walk with God. Those are the things that tell me that what I do matters. Those are the things I can turn to when I sometimes I think I am not making a difference in the world around me.

It was a good journey sorting through my box. It brought back a lot of great memories, and some not so great. While it was nice to bring out the box and go through it, it was a reminder to me to cherish the days. Living in the past is never productive, but remembering it and all of the things that helped shape who I am, is sometimes a good thing.

Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” The past flies quickly. What you do today will be in the past tomorrow.  How are you living your life?  What precious memories are you making? Are you spending your time wisely?  The past is gone, tomorrow may not come, it is what I do today that matters.


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