My first home of my own was a small frame house in Grand Rapids, Michigan that I shared with a roommate. It was in the early 1970’s and I was a college student. The house was on Walnut Street. I still remember it and how “grownup” we felt having our own place to live. We knew it was our own place because it came with our own bills! And it had our own “stuff” in it. But all these years later, other than a few books and photographs, only memories remain of that time and place.
Over the years, there would be other homes in other cities. I would share those places and spaces with other people or live alone. Books and photographs continued to travel with me. But at some point in my life, other things began to also make the sojourn to the next address. Artwork, collectibles, even a few furniture pieces have been with me now for many decades. They stay with me because they have come to represent a part of me by their association with a part of my life.
An art piece I have owned for awhile now is a small print of Rembrandt’s work, “A Girl with a Broom”. It has been washed in a green glaze and framed in weathered and bronzed wood. It sits on a small table easel in my office. It’s been with me for over thirty years. I remember finding this gem in a small, dusty, crowded antiques and jumbles shop in a small town in Tennessee. My sister was living there for awhile after she first married and I was there for a visit. When I saw the piece, I knew it was mine. That particular painting saved an important grade for me back in high school. I struggled in my art history class. It just was not interesting and how anyone could remember how to spell all of the artists’ names was beyond me! It was down to the wire for me to pass or fail the class on the final exam. I desperately needed a question I could answer. And there it was. What was the name of this famous portrait by Rembrandt? Thankfully, it was a portrait of a girl with a broom and named precisely that! When I literally stumbled across that print, it had been over 15 years since I had thought about that painting. But its significance remained.
Recently I chronicled all of the places I have called home. While I have clear memories of some of them, it’s a bit sketchy for others. There have been at least twenty. And yet each of them is part of the imprint of my life. When thinking about this, here is what I know to be true: every time I have moved I have left parts of my life behind and carried parts of it with me.
If you have ever gone through a move you will understand this. There is no better time to streamline than when you move. We toss things, give them away, perhaps even have a garage sale or two and recycle our cash! Some things we carry with us out of need but will later replace with something more suited to our new home. The rest continues on and is put in a new place where we can see it in a new light even as we remember its former glow.
This is how I am beginning to understand life overall. With each time and season of my life I feel the call to let parts of the old season remain where they are. There is no need to carry them forward. Even who I serve and how I serve them. Going into my “new” means leaving some of my “old” behind. It also means taking some things with me, even if only for awhile. And it means some things will always remain. I find that very comforting and hopeful all at the same time. Every time and season has its purpose. And another season always follows. What genius God displays in giving us this gift of life and seasons to experience.
As we come to one of those time junctures at the close of the old year and the beginning of the new, it is a perfect opportunity to think about this. What will I leave behind? What will I take with me? What about you? What will you leave behind? What will you take with you? Good questions for both of us.
Choose today what you want tomorrow to be.