Monday, July 23, 2007

Danger in Removing Meaning

Andrew always tells me to check the garbage disposal before I turn it on. But, there is no way I am sticking my hand into that dark, dark hole to touch that putrid, rotting mess. Since I always do the dishes, I know that nothing is down there anyway. But, we had a guest visiting, who very kindly helped with the dishes. Unfortunatley, I was not able to keep track of things going in and out of the sink. When I went to wash up some dishes, the sink would not drain and I turned on the garbage disposal. I demolished the lid to a very expensive teapot (when I say expensive, I mean EXPENSIVE. It’s probably the most expensive teapot you can get that you would used everyday). To put it kindly, Andrew was very grumpy with me.

We have been looking for a replacement lid, which with expensive teapots is very hard to find. Anyhow, this weekend we went to a store looking for the replacement and Andrew inquired about the total cost of the teapot. When he heard of the total cost, he was grumpy all over again. I asked, “Are you upset with me allover again?” He said,
“A little. But, that’s all right. It’s just stuff!”

Mostly, I agree with this analysis of the situation. It does help our mental status to think of it this way. But, this mindset can be very harmful when taken too far (See Lancelot, Walker Percy).

Life’s Essentials:
Possessions are just stuff
Food is just sustenance
Shelter is just protection
Clothing is just coverings
Transportation is just a way to get there on time

But, with the human quotient these things are meaningful in everyway. Humans are meaningful in everyway.

Possessions – can be gifts from a loved one representing that person’s love; or it can represent something you did, or somewhere you went, a time that changed who you are; they show your personality—outward representations of who you are on the inside. They can define you, or control you. When they are lost, broken, stolen it can hurt you, because it is meaningful to you. They represent you, but they are not you.

Like our teapot, which we are trying to repair—it was a wedding gift from my grandmother. So, to us it represents so much. It represents our marriage union. It represents family and cross-generational bond. It represents all the years of sacrifice and hardship my grandmother went through to one day be able to bestow this memento of her love on her granddaughter. It represents all those good, relaxing times Andrew and I spent together sipping tea and enjoying each other. It represents the warmth and love of marriage, family and our lives. It is not JUST stuff. It’s meaningful.

Food – It keeps us alive, and it can kill us. That is meaningful enough. But, food can represent times you enjoyed family and friends. It can change your mood. It can change your health. It can change who you are. You can learn from food. It can be beautiful. Indeed, it can bring you closer to God. Thanking God for your sustenance. Opening yourself to God’s beauty and grace in all things. This line of thought carries through to clothing, shelter and all that STUFF that carries us away.

We must be careful to keep the meaning of the stuff, but to not be carried away with it. Our marriage is what it is with or with out the teapot. We will still drink tea and enjoy each other without the teapot. I know that my grandmother cares about me, even if she had not given us the teapot. But, it is a meaningful representation of love. It is a helpful reminder every time we use it. It is a sign.

All this stuff signals to us the meaning in humanity.

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