But Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. – Luke 2:19 (NIV)
I’m reading Once Upon a Time: Discovering Your Forever After Story by Debbie Macomber. We each have a story, Debbie writes, planned by God Himself, and to help readers discover their own personal stories, she includes a prompt at the end of each chapter.
One chapter deals with the treasures we keep—mementos, symbols, artifacts, letters, lists, journals, scrapbooks. “Make a list of important artifacts from your life,” she writes. “Tell about one of those and what it represents.”
Of all the “artifacts” I listed in response to the prompt, I didn’t know which one to write about. My mother’s cookbook? My own cookbook? My grandson Kyle’s sock?
Each one represents a different generation, a different aspect of my life.
My mother’s cookbook reminds me of my heritage—Slovak—the customs, cuisine, and characteristics of my ethnic background. In it are my mother’s favorite recipes—haluski, cirek, poppy seed bread. It represents my roots, my past, my DNA.
My sister gave me a Betty Crocker cookbook for my first Christmas on my own. It represents who I’ve become, my present. When it was new, I was stepping out of my past and into my future, carving a life for myself in a town where I knew no one, where I got my first job and my first apartment. I got married and began my own family. Stuffed in the cookbook’s stained pages are cards and letters, newspaper clippings, and recipes scribbled on the backs of envelopes. The pages with my favorite dishes are marked well with splatters and spills.
My Betty Crocker cookbook, binding broken and held together with a giant rubber band, is a symbol of how far I’ve come, since I didn’t even know how to cook a hot dog when I first went on my own. (Yes, I consulted Betty Crocker!) It represents who I was, who I’ve become, and what I’ve made of myself - my present.
The third artifact is my grandson’s sock. I found it in the bathroom, wadded up inside-out, while cleaning the house after one of my daughter’s Christmas visits home. Kyle was perhaps eight months old, from the size of the white sock. Goodbyes are always gut-wrenching, especially when you don’t know when you’ll see them next. Seven hundred miles is a long way. I’d wave them off, keeping a brave face. I’d hold back the tears until I started picking up, vacuuming, and putting the house back to “normal”— a house once full but now so empty.
When I found the sock, I held it to my heart and wept. That was nine years and many more goodbyes ago. I still have the sock, tacked to the bulletin board in my study. It represents the “grandmother” stage of my life—future generations.
Past, present, future – what are the artifacts of your life?
Every day I’m reminded how fleeting life is, O Lord. Please help me to spend each moment fulfilling Your purpose for me. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Psalm 145