These last few days packing and moving has been a part of my work. I have been sorting and packing books and cards and papers, deciding what to toss and what to save, trying to put things in boxes in at least a semi-organized manner.
Sometimes I stop to look, to read, to remember. I stop before packing a book that I bought, but haven't read, and I think, "Maybe I will read it now." I stop to look at a random photograph, a picture taken after a baptism, or during Vacation Bible School one year. I stop in the middle of sorting a box of cards, to read a thank you note from a child: "Thank you for helping me cut my pancakes." I remember then, the "lunch with a pastor" rewards given to students for Sunday School attendance.
I have a lot of stuff.
I have a lot of children's books, I observe. I did not get these in seminary. I decide I am going to keep all of these, though they are heavy. I also have most all of my seminary books still, and my notes. have sermons. I have lesson plans. I have knick-knacks too. What should I keep?
This is what happens in life. You accumulate. At least I do. Some you accumulate on purpose, and some by accident, just because it goes into a corner and you don't think of it again for a long time. And then, someday, you move and you consider the weight of all of that stuff. What it means. What it costs. The memories held in the middle of the stuff. There are different kinds of weights.
One piece of advice I got with regard to leaving my congregation: Attend to the relationships. Make time for people. I think it is good advice. But there is a hard deadline to be out of the office.
I would much rather be visiting people, talking to them on the phone, having coffee, than sorting stuff in my office. I would much rather spend all of my time with people than with stuff, except for the time when I see some old confirmation student doodling and memories flood back in.
I wonder if, in the next leg of the journey, I can somehow design my life so that I can spend more time with people than with stuff. I would like moving to be easier, to be able to pick out and pick up the most important stuff, even to know what it is, and then to spend more time with people, with the people I will leave, with the people I want to remember.