Sunday, November 08, 2009


Rainy weather has been replaced this week with sunny days giving just the right amount of warmth to the breezy air. Everyone has felt their spirit lift although the great fall color has greatly diminished.

Yesterday I was scheduled to speak at Nine Mile Baptist Church’s women’s retreat at Lake Sallateeska, and I enjoyed the drive up to north of Pinckneyville and the beautiful lodge after I got there. Their retreat theme was “Seasons” built around the scripture that for everything there is a season.

Since these women live near Mulkeytown (one grew up there), I was asked to speak on the life of Priscilla, the slave girl freed to live in the Silkwood home. I tried to show the various seasons of her life and how despite the very difficult times and many deprivations caused by prejudicial nineteenth century laws, she was able to live a useful life that blessed others. And there seem to be many indications that she lived a happy life at Silkwood Inn. With little education, no career, and no children of her own, she is probably the most famous of anyone who ever lived in Mulkeytown. (Abe Lincoln’s son Robert and some elephants came to town to build the railroad through there, but he didn’t actually live there.)

Musing over the day’s theme scripture, I did some heavy reflection on that as I drove home and realized I need to face and plan for the new season of life that I am now in. I don’t like change, so I don’t reorganize life easily. Nor do I like to discard traditions, friends, acquaintances, or possessions. Especially I do not like to discard paper or books. Yet maybe the time has come to simplify my life and my office. Simplification may mean cleaning out some things. We’ll see.

I am not an inveterate hoarder. I know I can honestly say that because I have hauled trunk load after trunk load of clothes, household stuff, and other things to give away when I could no longer use them. Gerald has cooperated by hauling truck loads of furniture or mattresses to the household give-away in our nearest town. I also have hauled countless trunk loads of refuse to recycling centers. So I know I won’t be written up in the newspapers when I die for having a house with mounds of old newspapers and magazines with only narrow lanes to walk through. It also helps that as long as I can stay out of second hand book stores and away from beautiful dishes at Salvation Army, I am not much of a consumer.

Nevertheless, I seldom see a newspaper that I don’t want to clip and save information—just in case I write an article or know someone who needs that information someday. I struggle to pass on magazines even though I know I will never have time to finish reading them. I think part of my affection for the written word was passed on to me by my mother. As a motherless child on the farm with her daddy at work in town, she looked forward to a daily newspaper or any periodical or letter that came to their mailbox. Unlike today, the printed word was a scarce and precious possession in that time. We are inundated with newspapers, long begging letters from countless organizations, and inexpensive magazines. Mother never got over being in love with publications, and a favorite phrase of hers was, “I read an article that said…” If it was in print, she was inclined to trust the words even though she was not a gullible person.

I still giggle when I remember the first time Gerald, as my fiancĂ©, went with our family to our beloved Mount Airy Farm, my dad’s childhood home. He was eagerly reading from a Popular Mechanic from a large stack on the wicker table in the living room. Suddenly he noticed it was twenty years old. I don’t think our family ever subscribed to that magazine, but a friend had passed them on, and rather than throw them out, Mother took then to the farm. I understand.

Magazines stack up at my house. File cabinets are full. I made family scrapbooks for years, but that hobby disintegrated into filling boxes of family ephemera with the idea that maybe in my frail elderly years, I will have time to make scrapbooks again. Both our old farm house and our new one have had the delightful characteristic of having nooks and crannies, and that has encouraged me to make use of them with various saved items. Our grandkids know if they need some item for a project (clay, toilet paper roll, cardboard box, construction paper, gold foil from a Christmas card, you name it), I will probably be able to find it somewhere.

However, so our children won’t have to go through some stored boxes looking for lost stocks or savings bonds (don’t have any), I have boxes of former teaching files or other projects marked: “Throw out when I die.” But maybe it is time I start throwing out some of the stuff myself. Maybe this should be a winnowing season for me.

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