I am surrounded by stuff. I have so much stuff that I feel like I might just be swallowed up in it. I have said for years that if I was in my workroom when an earthquake hit that it might be days before they would find my body.
I love to look at photos of people's scrap rooms. When I take photos of my work space, I can't do it like most women who share their scrapbooking retreats…proud of the beautiful cupboards or artistic display, organizational ingenuity and adorned walls. I have to take pictures of small, limited spaces – and it's not even of the stuff that I use all the time. It's the stuff that's ornamental. I have to face it…my space is just overloaded with stuff. Don't get me wrong – it does have some semblance of organization. There is just too much stuff! If there was ever a special episode of "Hoarders" that could be scrapbooking (or grocery) related, I would be a prime candidate. Mind you, my whole life does not revolve around collecting stuff. It just happens. Mostly by accident or being in the wrong place at the right time (should that be in the right place at the wrong time, or right place at the right time?) for my collecting, that is. I rarely buy things at full price, but when I find a deal…I'm definitely a sucker for a good deal. And of course if it's free, that's a totally different story. I take all I can get for free. If I can't use it, I can bestow it on someone else that can. Anyway, that's kind of my situation with stuff. And there are times when I just need to escape the stuff.
Just before Christmas, when I was at the San Diego Temple for my last shift of the year, I noticed something that I had never seen before…dust! Okay, not that I have never seen dust before – I am old friends with dust. I had never seen it at the Temple! I was so shocked that I actually verbally complained about it at the desk to relay the message to housekeeping. I wasn't unkind, but I just thought that maybe someone had totally missed the Grand Staircase and felt it my "duty" to report. As soon as I did, I felt really rotten about it. A grown woman complaining at the Temple! I felt even worse later when I found out that housekeeping had been working at about half staff because of illness and an emergency surgery for the whole month of December. I know that Monday is the day when Stakes in the area have assignments for members to go assist with cleaning at the Temple, so I thought I'd better do penance and help with the problem, not be a problem.
So…I didn't have an official assignment, but figured they wouldn't turn me away. I asked a friend in the ward if she would be willing to go with me and she agreed. So Monday morning, bright and early, I picked her up and away to the Temple we went. When we got there, much to my dismay, we were informed that the assignments had been canceled because the head of housekeeping needed to do administrative work and didn't have time to instruct all the volunteer helpers. I was afraid I might have to wait another week before I could set things right, at least with myself. But the slightly frazzled Sister decided that maybe it wouldn't take too long to instruct just two ladies on how to clean the outside stairwells. So she put us to work. It felt good to be cleaning someone else's house and my friend and I had the chance to chat.
When we had finished stair well four, she caught up with us and asked if we would like to move to the inside to dust and polish the Grand Staircase. The outside stair wells were hollow and there was a bit of an echo. Although inside the Temple, you still had a sense of the outside world because of the noises you could hear. But inside, by the Grand Staircase, is a different story. The sounds from the outside disappear. The sunlight coming through panes of glass in the beautiful windows warmed and illuminated the room. I became acquainted with the wood grain in the handrail and dusting at the base of the balusters gave me a new appreciation of the work that housekeeping has to do in order to keep it free from that pesky air-bourne debris that I can't keep out of my own home. My friend and I worked quietly and the mood was peaceful.
After we left the Temple, we had the chance to visit. Making time to hang out with friends isn't always on my schedule these days, but since we were already together, a chat took minimal effort and was good – we were able to catch up on how our lives had been going.
I guess I was a little greedy because the following day, I asked this same friend if she would like to go volunteer at the Bishop's Storehouse…kind of like a food pantry for those that have fallen on hard times and need assistance. She said sure, and after I picked her up, we drove past another friend in our ward's house and pulled to the side of the road to say hi. Wondering where we were off to, we invited her to join us, which she very willingly did, which brought our group to three. I had only planned on working for a couple of hours, but when we got down there, it was quite busy and it turned out that we stayed for five hours. Funny thing is that we ran into two more members from our ward there. It was so much fun! We worked hard, kept busy and helped without complaining because there wasn't anything that we could complain about! What a blessing to be able to serve and have fun at the same time! There never really was a lull until we were ready to leave and I think that I might just have to treat myself and go and do it again…soon!
This is a long way around it, but I guess my point is that I love other things more than I love stuff. I love having a wonderful family…great, hardworking husband, creative, kind kids, wonderful in-laws, a wise, kind, loving mom – all way more important than having stuff. I love having friends even more than I love having stuff. I love serving others more than I love stuff. I love my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love knowing that I am a child of God and that I have a Heavenly Father that loves me. I love having the testimony that the relationships that I make here can be carried with me into the next life more than I love the stuff that will have to stay behind. As long as I can keep my priorities, and stay away from earthquakes, I'll find happy ground. And maybe, just maybe, I won't end up buried alive under all my stuff!
But I still love having stuff…