I roasted a chicken last night and I decided to put out a very special tablecloth that I hadn’t dare used since I first scored it at an estate sale over a decade ago…
It was a beautiful late spring morning in Portland and for once I had beat the other early bird pickers, those old-timers who had been doing it since they were kids. I was standing in the lush green yard and asked the lady having the sale if she had any linens? Yes, she said. “I’ll buy them all.” I learned that early on. There’s no time to ask how much, just claim them! Seconds later one of my main competitors showed up. I have to tell you that this part of picking is the most fun…that is, when you are the one winning! The woman having the sale proceeded to bring out gigantic boxes stacked with vintage, never used linens! She only wanted $15 for everything! This competitor in particular is very good-natured, not all of them are, and she was shaking her head but also smiling for me. It was Christmas for weeks at home as I sorted through them all. I sold most since that was a side hustle for me but the very special pieces I’ve kept, like the tablecloth I used last night.
I had just plated the bird and sides with gorgeous, glistening juices poured over it all. My dear darling loving husband, the only other member of my household, was very happy about the dinner on his plate.
Someone in my house, I don’t want to out them, somehow spilled all of the juices from their plate onto my special, sentimental favorite tablecloth I had been keeping protected from enemy fire all these years. My reaction was uglier than the deeply embedded won’t wash out gigantic stain on the piece of cloth although it’s a close call.
So was I wrong? Should I have kept it in the closet? And I realized that although the tablecloth had been hard won and was mine, it wasn’t mine. Everything is on loan. Perhaps the lady to whom the estate belonged had so many unused boxed linens because she, too, wanted to keep them safe and away from household members with dangerous plate transportation practices.
Then I was reminded of Jesus teaching us that we should not give so much of our heart and soul to temporal things because they are not eternal and can’t sustain us the way the spirit does. I was also reminded of an excerpt from my copy of “At the Heat of the Tao Te Ching: The Way to Life” by Benjamin Hoff, a book I read fresh out of high school:
Precious possessions cripple one’s mastery; they end up owning their owners.
I originally thought of that applying only to things like diamond rings and vacation homes, but no, it’s anything we spend precious time trying to protect, and place more importance on, than the Spirit and people with whom we share these things. Over-attachment to a cherished sentimental bauble is no different. When pretty things distract us from our relationship with God they cease to be a true treasure.
Having shared that, thought I’d let you know that the chicken was excellent!