We all have items that cannot be replaced – the first painting by a much loved child, the watch we got on a significant birthday, a present from someone special. When people are burgled or houses are engulfed by flood or fire, it is often these sorts of items that folk grieve for. I was burgled a while ago and the thieves took my laptop, which was inconvenient. They also took my father’s first fountain pen – it didn’t work, was of no material value and was of no interest to anyone else, but my sister had looked after it for decades and had given it to me as a wedding present. We were both upset that it was gone, even though we agreed that my father would have been more upset about me being alone and asleep in the house whilst the burglary took place.
In our Lent groups, we have been talking about giving things up for Lent and whether that helps us spiritually. In the desert times in our lives, most of our possessions are no use to us. It is what and who we carry in our hearts that will see us through. In our prayer time on Sunday, we were invited to imagine receiving the most wonderful gift we could think of, then giving it away, first to someone we loved and then to a stranger. When the news is so full of cruelty and acts of hatred, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that people still do wonderful things for others, often strangers. Perhaps you give blood regularly or are registered as a bone marrow donor. Maybe you sponsor a child abroad or give clothes to charity shops. We may give away something that is valuable to us, but it is so much more valuable to the person who receives it. In sorting out my possessions, I am trying to find ‘good homes’ for certain items, so that they will give real pleasure to the person who receives them. This helps me to see my giving up and letting go as a blessing.