From Trash to Treasure

antique-yard-garage-sale-featured-w740x493It’s that time of year when there is a yard sale dotting every development, when people have cleaned out their trash and are marketing it for whatever they can get, when the hunt for a bargain really kicks in.

A few years ago, our family had a yard sale at my mother-in-law’s house. I did my best to avoid coming home with more than I took, but it was hard. I could blame my daughter, who was two at the time, but really, I was just as much to blame.

How could I resist the goodies I saw from my sister-in-law, the clothes from my nieces, the must-haves that my mother-in-law contributed?

Though I didn’t quite come home with more than I took, I did have to laugh at myself when, cleaning out the toy mess in our house, I found myself putting quite a few of those garage sale finds from that previous year in the “get it out of the house” pile. I had to chuckle at how, when I’m given a full garbage bag full of three-sizes-too-big clothes from my sister-in-law, I find myself passing them right along.

We just don’t need all this STUFF. We have enough of our own.

Our parish took quite a few mission trips to Appalachia, and I gained some further insight into how much STUFF we really have. The folks told me about how they took a couch to an 80-year-old woman who had never had a couch. Ever. This was her first couch.

Now, the cynic in me started to ask, perhaps she never NEEDED a couch.

Then I thought about how much time we spend on OUR couch.

And I thought about what we’re doing when we’re on the couch.

It’s a pretty short list: reading, eating, talking, or, most likely, watching TV.

Did this 80-year-old woman have a TV? And if not, is she really missing out? (I would have a harder time answering that question if “TV” was replaced by “computer.”)

Our parish has had many brimming-to-the-edge-of-whatever-vehicle-we-take trips down to Appalachia. We’ve sent everything from clothes to furniture to food. And, with everything we take, the folks down there respond much as the lepers did to Jesus, with heartfelt thanks.

I can’t help but think about the last time I went to confession. I was getting a little crusty on the edges, a little full of grime and dirt and sin. I took that big black garbage bag of sin to Jesus, in the form of Father Pat, and he turned it into treasure for me—graces I’ve needed every day since.

As I look around in the bright sunshine of summer, filling bags in an ongoing effort to get rid of so much of the extra stuff that’s junk, it’s pretty obvious that it’s also time for me to make an appointment for confession.

First, I have to swallow my pride and then I have to shine some of that sunshine inside of myself, to find the sins that are disguised as harmless cobwebs over behind the dresser and the sins that have become invisible by virtue of how often I commit them.

Confession gets a bad rap. And it’s no wonder—if I was Satan, I’d make sure I attacked this sacrament with all I had too. You see, after a good confession, I’m ready for battle; I’m ready to take on my life; I’m ready to enjoy the beautiful world around me without the baggage of all that stuff inside.

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