Item upon item stacked
The overflowing clutter feels like my life.
A riot of color and texture infuse the tiny space with sumptuous temptations, the lure of the new and the promise of better. Choice after choice, the silky turquoise or regal purple for that new dress? Or the radiant orange? Or what about the powder blue?
These Rwandan shopkeepers care not for western sensibilities of marketing. The more they can pile in, the more they can display and the more they can sell. It’s exhilarating and an assault to the senses at the same time.
To cover the beat up table in the center of the store, we needed a table cloth for The Shop. I could have lingered for a while, but the claustrophobic space and press of bodies elicited a quick response. “I want the royal blue roll in the back of this pile. 7 yards should do it.”
And out the door I went, leaving my compatriots to negotiate and settle up. Of course no price is “firm”, so while they haggle, I’m given plenty of time to soak in the exotic sights.
My sweet mother-in-law would be overwhelmed. She hates digging through clothing racks. On the other hand, my mom and sister and I will bulldoze for hours if there promises to be a cache for bargain prices, a left-over trait from our youth.
Living a modest paycheck to paycheck life, when we wanted new clothes not sewn by my mother, my sister and I pawed though the “damaged” items in my manager-father’s retail clothing store.
A missing button here, a dirty spot there, a hem that had come unraveled,
Minor problems, often easily fixed.
We tunneled, laser-focused, looking for that buried treasure. That thrill of the chase, trying to beat each other to the prized items.
I shop for a living, but my oldest son can shop circles around me. A trip to the mall for a pair of jeans meant going into every hip store, looking for the perfect pair while rifling through every sale rack in sight.
To nip any arguments in the bud, we put our boys on a clothing allowance when they turned 13 and 15. So they learned to streeeetch that money. They had the choice of spending it all on an expensive pair of jeans and a couple overpriced shirts, or if they wanted quantity, they learned to be creative.
But with patience and determination, he always ended up best-dressed. His classmates had no idea how little he spent.
And I miss three key blessings when I rush through life instead up slowly perusing the racks, sifting through the chaff, looking for perfection.
1. Be still—Look for the nuggets in scripture that fuel our souls.
2. Rest—Take time to view the amazing sunset and be thankful for God’s smiling handiwork.
3. Enjoy—Be present in the moment. Relish the laughter of a child. The time with dear friends. The love of your family.
Sometimes the real treasure in life is right under your nose.
“For where your treasure is, your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21