catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 7 :: 2008.04.04 — 2008.04.18


We owe how much?

The wake-up call

I’m getting better, honestly I am. I’m sentimental, what can I say? Over the years, I’ve developed the ability to find hidden value in mundane things: rocks, greased burger wrappings—I should stop before I embarrass myself any further. I’ve used various objects from my life’s experiences to journal significant moments. I see these objects and they transport me to a sometimes painful and at other times glorious place. I need to remember the good and the not so good. In light of this ‘ability’, I’ve had to develop a counter-ability to hold onto those moments without sabotaging my wife’s sanity.

So, I’ve worked hard to minimize my sappy side and to weed out unnecessary items during our recent moves. In fact, this past move from urban Philadelphia to Austin, Texas was quite an example. My wife was somewhat baffled. I was throwing it all out. Left and right, I was tossing old clothes, albums, books, you name it—I got rid of it. It helped us in the end because of an early morning phone call we received last July.  All I remember waking up to, groggy, was the sound of my wife on the phone, saying: “We owe how much?” Long story short, we were cheated by a moving company. I know it’s hard to believe. Not many people I know have been through such an experience. Oh wait—yes, they have. Many of you know. Though the move cost us a small fortune, it would have cost us even more if I hadn’t purged my belongings beforehand. 

It got me thinking. You might never know how much those objects are really worth to you than when you’re moving across country and have to pay for every ounce of them. In my ruminations, I began to think about how important it is to remember. I was drawn to Psalm 78. It’s a history lesson of sorts. It tracks what happened to Israel and more importantly how their inconsistencies were met with a counter as well. God’s faithfulness, if you look at in light of this Psalm, highlights the reason it’s important to remember. Remembering is essential to our growth.

Here in the Lone Star state of Texas, you grow up knowing the importance of remembering. Texas history is taught with great zeal. “Remember the Alamo!” is a persistent refrain. When the tragedies of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks took place, it set off the appearance of countless American flags and signs that implored us to “remember.” Even in a time of great pain, folks are dedicated to remembering, not forgetting. For me, this is the reason I store away so many things. Though it might seem like a stretch, it’s really why I keep things. The real challenge is being able to know when enough is enough.

I’ve got some real finds that I’ve hauled across the country. I’ve got a classic old school fitness bike with a timely squeak at specific rotation points. I’ve got little tidbits in drawers, in cigar boxes, and in picture frames. It’s an addictive habit of sorts. I’m fascinated by a past moment merging with a current troubled or nostalgic moment. I’m trying to hold onto something, freeze it in time, to capture it so as not to lose the essence of that moment. Though I know that reality it’s lost, I try to force it to linger.

The things I keep tend to be stored away internally more so than externally of late. Pictures help me remember. At times I see a photo and I know instantaneously what I ate that night, or the argument I got into, or a funny moment. This past weekend my family went strawberry picking. My youngest daughter Thea couldn’t get enough of those ruby red, lusciously juicy berries. It was most certainly a moment that I hope to remember well in a few years. When I say remember, I hope my reflection will be more than just, “Ah that was nice.” Remembering is more about reflecting critically on the past to help make sense of my present. It’s a way for me to remember how far I’ve come—how far the gospel of Jesus Christ has brought me and yet how much further I have to go. No matter how hard it might be, how disappointing certain moments are, I can always look at these images and recall necessary moments of pain and joy that put my mundane moments in perspective. I encourage you to take a look at your photo albums. Take a trip. Go back and think about where God has brought you, from where, and ask yourself where God might be taking you.

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