Everyday Theology: There’s no u-haul behind a hearse

"Nevertheless, in an effort to keep my vow, I have an annual war with my stuff."

Nearly 20 years ago, I declared a war on stuff.  I was helping to clean out the house of a favorite relative who had died, and there were moments when the sheer volume of stuff threatened to overwhelm us.  Everything had to go, right down to the last nail in the shed.

It was at that time that I vowed not to accumulate too much stuff.

We had an easy enough time deciding what should happen with the best stuff; it went to family members. It was also fairly easy to get rid of stuff that was in good, useable condition; it went to charities. Some stuff was destined for the dumpster.  Items in the personal archive category- greeting cards, photographs, report cards, and academic certificates – were more problematic, and eventually, we shredded the majority of it. The last good-bye to the stuff of a lifetime took place when we sold the house.

This was for me a sobering experience, and while I had the best intentions of honoring my vow, I immediately began accumulating more stuff when I inherited a breakfront full of beautiful hand painted china.  Nevertheless, in an effort to keep my vow, I have an annual war with my stuff.

The first skirmish in my annual war on stuff begins in the closet where seldom worn clothes create a clutter.

The first causalities of this year’s campaign were a couple of pair of jeans. From there, the battle moved to the hall closet where I ambushed an unsuspecting winter jacket, taking it captive for the Sally Ann, and mercilessly fired a comfy but worn-out pair of slippers into the trash.

I have to psyche myself up for the next offensive, which will be messier and more drawn out than the skirmish in the closet.

It will consume hours, and spread out from one room to another. It will take me down the path of nostalgia, and potential causalities will cry out for mercy.

This battle will be against our personal archives. This is the stuff that George Carlin in his hilarious monologue on stuff referred to when he said,  when somebody steals your stuff  “they don’t bother with that crap you’re saving.  Ain’t nobody interested in your fourth grade arithmetic papers.”

I have done combat with those metaphorical fourth grade arithmetic papers more than once. I can more easily part with a piece of antique furniture than a scrap of paper on which a child printed, “I love you mom”.  Over the years I have whittled the stuff of our family archives down to something manageable, and I hope, meaningful to my kids. Still, I am certain that when the time comes, they will wonder why on earth I kept some stuff.

The experience of sorting through the stuff of someone’s life over two decades ago made a deep impression on me. It drove home the truth that “you can’t take it with you”, or, to put it another way, “there’s no U-Haul behind the hearse”.  At the end of the day, every last nail has to go.

Trail, BC resident Louise McEwan is a freelance religion writer with degrees in English and Theology. She has a background in education and faith formation. Her blog is www.faithcolouredglasses.blogspot.com. Contact her at mcewan.lou@gmail.com .

Just Posted

Photo: Trail Times
Trail RCMP start June by nabbing impaired drivers

Latest brief from the Trail and Greater District police

“This is very costly to replace and it seems that Rossland is getting more and more theft and vandalism happening, which is really unfortunate,” says the commission’s Michelle Fairbanks. Photo: Submitted
Two plaques stolen from Rossland heritage square

The plaques were located at Washington and Columbia by the Olaus statue

No matter your age, the city’s two skate park hosts Jaryd Justice-Moote (left) and Brenden Wright can help you roll into a new pastime this “Summer at the Skatepark.” Photo: City of Trail
Free coaching at the Trail Sk8Park begins next month

The city is rolling into a summer of inclusive recreation by, for… Continue reading

Pastor Tom Kline
‘Why I became a Christian’ with Pastor Tom Kline

That night, a peace came over my heart that has remained from that day to this, 36 years later.

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters block Castlegar’s main street for 24 hours

Members of Extinction Rebellion stayed overnight in downtown Castlegar

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read