SHARING and CARING…it’s what LIFE is all about!

The Most Important Things in Life Aren’t Things

Posted by on Nov 8, 2013 in Blog, Food for Thought | 2 comments

This wooden plaque was a gift I received while on my book tour in the Maritimes in September 2012. It matches the one that hung on the wall in the home where I was staying. It has a ‘country’ look to it and it took me almost a year to hang it…more from finding the right place to display it—over our bay window at our trailer—than taking the time to do it.

When I first saw it, I read it and thought, Hmmm, that’s interesting. And that was all. But, being that it hung front and centre in the kitchen of my host’s home, I had several opportunities to absorb the real meaning behind the words. I found myself asking the inner me, What are the most important things in my life? I realized that they weren’t things ; they were my family, my friends, my Christian witness.

However, not wanting to appear sanctimonious, I’m quick to add that I do hold on to certain things—and I know I’m not alone in doing that! Things like my grandfather’s ivory carved napkin holder; the ceramic Venus statue my father made weeks before his death at fifty-four; the small statues of a spaniel and a wire-haired terrier, gifts in memory of Honey and Toby ; my three Royal Doulton figurines…and the list goes on, each holding a special place in my curio cabinet.

Because they are very special to me, I’ve determined that I will write the stories behind each item…maybe this winter…and leave them in the proverbial time capsule: my computer. Such an undertaking might lead you to ask, Why in the world would you do that? Fair enough. But I might ask you a question in return: Do we not all want to leave some kind of mark or memory or footprint of our lives, something more than just a name? Is it pure vanity in wanting this, or are we just being human? Do we not want the most important people in our lives—and the generations to follow—to have a glimpse of who we are (or were), even through those little things that we cherish?

My husband and I recently heard a retired lawyer share the importance of “having our things in order.” (There’s that word again!) He began with the comment, “Get rid of the clutter, the things we accumulate over our lives…” and then he went on to share the value and importance of disposing of those things now, things that are too often left behind for others to deal with. I wanted to jump up and say, “But wait a minute! What if those things are important and they need to be kept…for posterity? What about the letters and cards and pictures and.…” Of course, I didn’t jump up and embarrass myself. But, in the end, I was still left thinking that if I didn’t keep the ceramic Venus my father made, no one would know the story behind it. Or if I just put the dog statues of Honey and Toby into the Goodwill bag, the involvement of those dogs in my life and the lives of my children and grandchildren would be lost. And, how would people know that the figurine of the white doves was a gift from my very best friend, Lorna.

When time has erased my physical presence, small memories of my life may linger if generations that follow understand why the little homemade stone statue given to me in honour of my first novel, Come Find Me meant so much to me. Or why I kept my maternal grandmother’s painted sugar bowl with the   broken knob. Or why the Old Man and the Old Lady ceramic figurines held a regal spot on the middle shelf.

Do the contents of my curio cabinet have any earthly value? Not really. Oh, I suppose there is some monetary value in the Royal Doultons; but more importantly—and of far greater value—each item holds a story that’s part of who I am. I believe that’s why I value those things the way I do.

So, I suppose, possessions—even our accomplishments and goals—in themselves,  are not wrong. It’s just that when those things take precedence over what’s eternal, over family relationships, over sharing the love of Christ, then we have a problem.

 The most important things in life aren’t things a very sobering thought. At least, that’s the way I see it.

 We blossom for a moment like a flower—and wither;

as the shadow of a passing cloud, we quickly disappear.

Job 14:2











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  1. Heather

    Beautiful, Ruth. Please don’t leave all those ‘things’ memories stored in your computer. They hold more than sentimental value. You have underestimated the value your writing has now and in the future. Your caring and sharing ministry will be remembered through your writing.

    Once I lamented to a friend that a ministry I was involved in for years would not be remembered. She answered, “God knows.” He knows your heart as others do now and will in the future through your writing. <3

    • Ruth Waring

      Wow, Heather you certainly have a ministry to me with your kind words! Even the email you sent with your list of Bucket things was extremely thought provoking. You have reminded me WHO I write for and why I endeavour to have a speaking ministry. Thank you! You are a good friend!

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