Treasures

She was frustrated.  A husband can tell, you know.  Especially when she says, “I’m so frustrated with this!” Her afternoon had been spent, at first making good progress, but as the time sped past, with ever longer delays in the actual project.

After another of her famous Sunday dinners, the Lovely Lady had sat down on the couch prepared to work on a craft project.  Her husband wasn’t aware of what was happening at first.  It is possible that he fell asleep for a moment or two.  There was, after all, a warm fire, and the recliner was in a position which made it more probable.  As I said, it was possible…Regardless, there she was on her couch, with a tangle of yarn in her hands.  She was frustrated.

She had struggled with the tangle for quite some time when suddenly she was making progress in pulling out  a few feet more of the yarn.  Perhaps this was going to work out after all.  Alas, it was a false hope.  A final tug proved that no more would pull out.  She sighed deeply and searched for her scissors.  Her husband wondered why she wanted the scissors.  “I have to cut the yarn, so I can pull it out the other direction,” she answered, realizing that he was a mere man and wouldn’t be able to work this one out for himself.  He decided to help her look for the scissors, but secretly he wondered why she didn’t just throw away the tag end of the skein of yarn.  The entire thing had cost less than a dollar.  There were quite a few more skeins sitting in that bag at her feet.  But, he knew better than to ask.  She doesn’t throw away perfectly good yarn.  Even if it is tangled up.  He is sure that he is right, but holds his tongue.  In a few moments and after a fair amount of labor, she has not one, but three smaller balls of yarn which have been salvaged and dropped into the yarn sack to be used in the future, as need arises.  He chuckles to himself.

Later that same night the man sits down to his desk and prepares to put a few of his random thoughts into words once again.  As he considers a subject worthy of his contemplation, his eye falls on an item near the back of the desk.  It is one of hundreds of odd items stacked (not neatly) on the workspace.  The old yellow pedal has been there for a year or more.  It doesn’t work.  Come to think of it, it may never work again.  A mass produced, cheaply made electronic guitar effect, it never was worth much to start with.  He should throw it away.  But he doesn’t.  Someone might be able to repair it someday.  Perhaps some of the parts might be salvaged to repair another one, closer to working condition than this one.  He is hard put to explain his reticence in disposing of the worthless thing. The value of the salvaged parts from it would be less than a dollar or two.  The Lovely Lady’s husband resolves to get rid of it tonight. He picks it up to toss into the trash and feels the weight in his hand.  No.  He sighs as he places it again on his desk and moves on to other things.  If she saw it, she would be the one chuckling this time.

One might wonder if this couple could be candidates to appear in an episode of one of next season’s television shows about hoarders.  Clearly, they need to get some perspective on setting priorities.  Almost certainly, these two are not indicative of the normal American family.  Or, are they?  I’m going to take a chance and tell you that these two are very much like most folks they (and probably, you) know.  They’ve been taught that you don’t throw away anything which has value.  They learned that you clean your plate at meals and save the leftovers for later.  “Waste not, want not.”   “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

I’m wondering tonight what would happen if we placed the same value on people that we do on things in our lives.  I’ve heard frequently from folks that they don’t expend effort on people who are broken.  Oh, they don’t say it quite like that.  One says, “I have to set priorities and deal only with people who don’t make too many demands on my time.”  Another posts, “Never waste time on people who think you don’t matter.”  Again and again, I have folks say that they won’t use up their energy to be friends with people who won’t make an effort themselves.  Does anyone see the incongruity here? We spend hours to salvage broken and used up things, but can’t be bothered to save a used up person.  We collect useless items in hopes that someday we’ll find a purpose for them, moving them from one place to another rather than dispose of them, but let a friend offend us one time and we shove them away, never to interact with them again.  We keep things, but we throw away people.

There is a piano which sits in my living room.  In appearance, the old piano is beautiful, but the sound it makes is dreadful.  I noticed as the Lovely Lady played yesterday that the notes almost sounded jangly as she worked through different chord combinations.  When played one at a time, the notes sounded just fine.  As she added thirds and fifths and octaves, however, the resulting sound almost caused me physical pain.  I couldn’t stand to be in the same room while she played.  I think we might have to throw the piano away and get a new one.  What do you think?

Idiocy, you say?  What’s that?  I should call the the piano tuner?  Yes, that might do it.  I’ll call him this week.  We can keep the piano.

The lesson of the piano is clear.  Many times, the easy thing would be for us to quit trying to make music together.  If there is a cacophony when we interact with other voices, why bother trying to make harmony?  The answer is that we are not made to be solo instruments, but we are made to function in concord with one another; we must produce harmony, each note blending with the others as it plays its part.  It takes work to keep the instrument in tune, but it make a lot more sense than throwing out the whole affair.

I’m pretty sure that we will, each one of us, always have our own silly things which are valuable to us, and that’s okay.  We need to be sure though, that we don’t allow those things to become more important than the people God brings across our pathway. 

He doesn’t make any throw-away people.  Not one.

“We should all be concerned about our neighbor and the good things that will build his faith.”
 (Romans 15:2~God’s Word)

“I keep a treasure or two near my skin, precious as rings to me.”
(The hobbit, Pippin in “Lord of the Rings”~J.R.R.Tolkien)

“We ought not to treat living creatures like shoes or household belongings, which, when worn with use, we throw away.”
(Plutarch~Ancient Greek Author~46-119)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.

One thought on “Treasures

  1. Ouch, again! As I tell my children (and need to remember more frequently myself), “people are more important than things.”

    I am guilty of thinking I am somehow “better” than others around me, and somehow “deserving” of the salvation, mercy, grace, forgiveness I have received from God and the blessings He has given. But yet, who did Christ pursue? Not the Pharisees, but the ones in the Jewish society that were considered broken, useless, beyond hope, not good enough.

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