Monday, August 22, 2011
'All Will Fall Into Place'
I never thought I’d be able to walk from one end of our basement to the other in a straight line, but the day has finally come.
That probably doesn’t sound like big news, but if you had ever seen the basement of my family’s house, you’d probably be as stunned as I am right now.
Our basement had been something of a garbage dump for as far back as I can remember, filled with old refrigerators, furniture, books, toys, and boxes, boxes, boxes.
In fact, other than the Arc of the Covenant and Jimmy Hoffa’s mortal remains, it’s hard to imagine what wasn’t down there.
We recently hired a crew of extremely capable contractors to come in and haul all the stuff out. Sergio, the head man, took time to show us old photographs, papers and other items he thought might be valuable to us, but pretty much everything else got the heave-ho.
When the crew drove off the first day, I said to my sister “thank God there are guys like them to do jobs like this.”
These men don’t sit behind keyboards or crunch numbers or yak about gigabytes all day long. They roll up their sleeves and work.
It was eerie walking around that nearly empty basement. The barren space really underscored the fact that we won’t own the house much longer.
There were still some bits of the past hanging around. I saw the battered box of the old Green Ghost game that we were so crazy about when we were kids. Sergio found Creeple People, a toy where you made the heads and limbs of troll-like creatures and put them on pencils.
There was a single plastic toy soldier, the remains of a game where you knocked them over with a cork fired from a little cannon. I forget the name of the thing, but I do remember having fun nailing those soldiers. It was a simpler time.
Message From The Past
As I looked around the basement, I saw an old birthday card on the floor. It was stained and filthy, but I could just make out an image of a bunch of grapes on the front, the one in the center sporting shades and a smiley face.
The card was addressed to me and it was from my parents—Mom was the one who actually picked and signed the cards--and it read “When it comes to sons, you’re the best of the bunch.”
I can only guess how old this card is, how many years it had sat forgotten in some dark corner of the basement.
At first, I didn’t think it was terribly different from the scores of other cards we’ve found until I looked on the inside flap and saw a note from my mother.
“Dear Rob,” she wrote, “I have faith in you and you will succeed. Just be patient. I have enclosed information on St. Martin. Pray to him and all will fall into place.”
Do I have to even mention that I started sobbing when I read this? No, I didn’t think so.
St. Martin de Porres was very important to my grandmother and I took Martin as my confirmation name in the fifth grade, the year she died.
I remember walking home from school with my mother one day and she started to cry as she told me how happy she was that I was taking St. Martin’s name.
I was a little embarrassed at seeing her cry, but I was a child and back then I had no idea how incredibly painful it is to lose your mother.
Years later, when my mom died, we had the funeral director put St. Martin’s image on her prayer card.
I’ve been struggling over what items I should keep from our house and what I should throw away, but part of me believes that if I walked away from our home with just that battered birthday card and the clothes on my back, I’d have everything I need.
The line about falling into place is so important at this time of my life because right now it feels like everything is up in the air. My sister said it was my fate to find this card and I’m not going to argue.
What’s even more amazing is that St. Martin is often depicted holding a broom because he believed all work to be sacred, no matter how menial.
I wish we had taken a broom to our basement decades ago so we could have used it for something more than a subterranean junkyard.
I think we all just assumed that the space would never be cleaned because it had always been in that hideous condition and, thus, always would be.
That’s a dangerous way to think because you wind up accepting a lot of bad things in your life merely because that’s the way they’ve always been.
You can’t allow junk to pile up in your house or in your mind. Trash should be thrown out the door at the first opportunity and toxic thoughts should get the same treatment.
If negative thinking starts to overwhelm you, say a prayer, then roll up your sleeves, grab a broom, and start sweeping. You’ll be doing sacred work.