Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday's Reflection: Preparing for a Garage Sale

This weekend we are having our second garage sale since moving here, and it won't be the last. After over 40 years of happy antiquing, we are letting go of our treasures, but not of our memories. 

Antiquing has been our hobby. Some people play golf or tennis or have a boat or sew or paint, but what we have loved doing together almost from the beginning of our marriage is searching for treasure. We have loved exploring small towns and urban neighborhoods all in pursuit of pottery bowls and green depression glass and one more vintage tablecloth, oh, and something for the garden that will look just right next to the roses. We have eaten burgers and fries at small town drive-ins and oohed and aahed at valleys flowing into the next county or a farmhouse where we know we could be happy if we lived a different life. We have gotten up early on cold Saturday mornings in order to pass through the gates of a outdoor antique market before someone else buys just what we always wanted, but didn't know that till we saw it! We have taken home bits and pieces of those places--those lives--over the years and created our own version of home. 

Such wonderful memories I have, as well, of antiquing with friends who have shared the same passion. Friendships were deepened as we talked in the car or walked aisles of an antique mall. When a  long time friend and I invited my sister and daughter to join us as "Girls on Safari," awarding prizes for the first purchase of the day or to the person who got the best bargain, we enjoyed times of play and silliness. 

Letting Go

But now, as Joan Chittister http://www.benetvision.org in her book The Gift of Years, Growing Older Gracefully says, "The time for heaping up is over." (p. 90)
She also says, 
         Life, it seems, follows a relentless cycle: in our early
         years we accumulate, but in our later years we divest.
         Both of them have a place in life. Both of them are a
         struggle. Both of them are liberating. p. 89

The struggles in those years of accumulating were in the form of working long hours and of balancing family time with couple time and individual time and in making decisions about how we wanted to live and where and making that happen. At the same time growing our family and ourselves brought so much joy and love into our lives. How lucky we have been.

Now the struggle comes in the process of divesting. I hasten to add that my husband has been taking the lead with the garage sales, doing the vast majority of the work, and I am grateful. This is just one step along the way of lightening the load, however. Earlier I became the Queen of Craigslist and 1-800-Got Junk, and we have both made countless trips to Goodwill. We have gathered in over time, and it will take more time to disperse the booty, but we are on our way.

An Example from the Past
Many years ago, when our children were young, we were invited to a 4th of July party given by an older colleague of my husband's, another doc. They had lived in a grand, old home near one of the lakes in Minneapolis, but recently they had sold that home and built a much smaller and far more contemporary styled home on the back of their original lot. The home was stunning, and we were intrigued by what they had done. It was clear they were thrilled with their accomplishment. They had lightened their load and you could see it not only in the sparse furnishings, but also in the way they talked about their lives as being freer and less constrained, even though they were living in far less space. I admired them. I even recognized the wisdom of what they had done, but I wasn't at that stage yet myself. 

We have a long way to go before our load is that light, but we are making progress, and I hope the upcoming garage sale will bring us closer to the goal. I know I still love beautiful and interesting things and am not ready to let go of everything, but I am surprised as Bruce opens yet another bin how easy it is to say, "Yup, sell it all." I have no regrets about our acquisition process, although I wish this part of the process would be easier. That being said, even a garage sale brings unexpected pleasures, along with empty bins--meeting our neighbors and seeing two young boys' delight when they bought an ice cream maker or a young woman who bought a quilt because it reminds her of her grandmother. They are in another part of the life cycle, and that's the way it should be. 

The Reason for This Process

As I lighten the load, however, I need to keep asking myself, "What am I creating room for? What is important about clearing the space?" Yes, it will be helpful to my children if there is less stuff when the time comes to sell this house for whatever reason, and I know I don't want to spend as much time cleaning and arranging and hometending, and I would rather spend time doing other things, writing and reading and being with family and friends. Once again Chittister offers words of wisdom, 
          Little by little we begin to strip down a layer at a time…
          And little by little we become less of our outer image 
          and more of our inner selves." (p. 92) 

This is a time of spiritual acquisition--of deepening our relationship to God, in whatever way we define and name the sacred and the holy, as the people we were created. That is the true goal. 

An Invitation
Have you started this divesting process and if so, how is it going for you? What are you learning about yourself as you do this? I would love to know. 


  1. It is so obvious, but we need to be reminded of the process and the goodness of it in our lives....Thank you, Nancy.


  2. And thank you, dear friend. As you know, sometimes it is the obvious that is the most obscure.


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