My grandfather owned an antique shop next to his farmhouse and I lived next door when I was a young child. I’d leisurely walk around the shop and barns, spotting new additions: a clock here, a old table and chair set there. Occasionally, there would be a newer item. I had my eye on it- a wooden treasure box. I must have been all of ten at the time that I bought it and I’ve been filling it with love ever since.
I collect special cards from my parents, loved ones and those who have passed on before me. There is a tightly packaged set of letters from my then military boyfriend, now husband with postal marks from all over the world, special momentums, poems and memories of days gone by. I’ve tucked my tiny bible in, along with a small evergreen scented pillow, filled with pine needles from a camping trip long ago, when my family was how I first knew it. It’s amazing how sweet the fragrance and memory is still.
I had a love spill long ago. I had to reorganize and start placing items that would no longer fit, in my antique blanket chest, which used to sit at the foot of my grandparents canopy bed. To my amazement, I found a square white box, which my youngest and I opened with wonder. It was my ring of roses and babies breath that I wore upon my head that hot July day when I decided against a veil. As my own baby tried it on wide eyed, I recalled my own momma giving it to me, as she had dried it while I was on my honeymoon. She said I’d need to see it again some day, and she was right.
I always have loved old treasures and antiques, especially old hope chests, as I have great wonder of what was in them before I owned them and what stories they might tell if they could talk. Then there are dusty corners that contain a few detours in the road, only known to the owner. I think about that day when I’m long gone and what will become of them all. I suppose we all have some surprises that surface tucked in amongst handprints and proud preschool glued button framed photos and dark crayon drawn ‘I love you momma’ pictures with my face and hands drawn so big.
Yes, I collect love.
How God must yearn for that too. Perhaps when one gets right down to it, the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love; loving God in all people and extending it to all people is what really counts. (Galatians 5:6) What would it look like to love Him as my first love and to love him passionately for all of His people? To take all that I know as my truth and let it all plummet from my mind, deep within my heart.
G.K. Chesterton said, “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”
A love affair - a heart contemplation put into action.
The beauty of such may begin in the mind, but surely settles in the heart and is the holy business of God’s people. Some days I seek God’s way and pray fervently for an answer to an item of discernment when the answer has all ready been provided simply where I stand. “…. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)
I’ve filled my box and trunk rather selectively through the years. Much to my sorrow when I announced my search and rescue mission to locate it after our last move, a few treasures I was positive I had saved were not there. My heart sank, as I do recall now the day that those went by the wayside, heart much afraid to hold them too tightly. Yes, I had discarded them. I let them slip through my fingers like sand. Some words can only be savored in the memory of the heart. These pieces deliberately tossed at the time and long forgotten give me cause to think why. Maybe it was more about whom I could not tolerate at the time or who could not tolerate them being a piece of me. Mean while it’s taken years, really decades later, to learn how to slide on over for one another with grace and make more room. God repeats some lessons until one has had enough practice.
I loved that old antique shop and this precious box and trunk, yet not the material items themselves, but the love they represent. I’m left with an image of God’s extravagant love overflowing without bounds that could not possibly be contained in these cherished chests. His love is huge. It never discards or fails; it is a patient love that tolerates and envelopes all, sealed with the offer of redemption. As I’ve made my finite attempts at loving, He’s been teaching me that bigger infinite Love- that baby in a manger every day offered Love. That Love at a distance is warm and comfortable, while Love close up is a transforming fire. That’s the kind of wild love freely offered inside all and not to be hidden away in an old chest of time.
“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” ~John 13:34-35