Leaven Blog

Parable of the jumble

Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash

by Joe Bollig

There’s a special place to go for someone who wants to learn about life and loss, as well as surrender and acceptance.

No, I’m not talking about any school.

I’m talking about thrift stores.

To many, a thrift store is just a place with a lot of castoff stuff — scuffed furniture, slightly worn clothes, dog-eared books, company coffee cups, sadly obsolete electronics and junky jumble.

Look closer. These are the fragments of other people’s lives. At one time these were valuable and desired things.

If only they could talk.

But in a way, they can.

Perhaps some items were merely utilitarian, fit to be discarded when their purpose was served. Some things are only for a season and a time.

Maybe they were birthday presents, or wedding presents, or Christmas presents, carefully bought and lovingly presented. Isn’t the love more important than the object?

What about that plate commemorating the 125thanniversary of a Lutheran church in Missouri? Did someone’s grandmother own it? Do we honor the legacies of our elders?

And that Barbie doll with all the hair chopped off? Someone was naughty, or practicing hair styling, or both.  Sometimes parents just have to laugh instead of scold.

There’s an old Army uniform with a camouflage pattern that hasn’t been used in decades. It has a name, a rank patch and a unit patch — a unit that had been deployed many times. Do we thank those who make sacrifices?

One wonders how all these things ended up at the thrift store. Somebody moved, somebody died, somebody downsized — there are many reasons.

We all like pretty things, nice things, valuable things — but Christians are not supposed to get too attached to material objects. After all, the only thing we can take out of this world is our own souls.

Job nailed it: “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

Leave a Comment