Rector's Ramblings March 15, 2017
I have rambled before about our efforts to scale back and thin out the things in our house that we don’t need or don’t want. I recently ran into an item that, while no longer useful in the ways it once was I still can’t let go of. The item in question is our entertainment center. You may be thinking, “Really? Attached to an entertainment center?” Yes. But this isn’t just any old entertainment center.
When we were first married we didn’t have kids – wouldn’t for five years, in fact. We both had professional jobs, little debt, and so we began to furnish our apartment, upgrading one thing at a time. We had been furniture shopping a number of times, noting what we liked and didn’t like. We found entertainment centers we liked that had lighted cabinets across the top, leaded glass doors, and a large profile – this was the year 2000 when entertainment centers were large because TVs were still large. We needed space for storing CDs as well as VHS tapes (remember those?). I had a “stereo system” with a number of components. We needed an entertainment center, and wanted one that looked nice.
Around that time, I met an Amish man who made custom furniture through my work at UPS. One of my drivers made regular stops at his little one-man shop on his small farm and during a ride-along, I asked him if he could build something like what I was looking for. Of course he could, he said, so I went back to see him about making a custom entertainment center. I drew it out, to scale, noting all the features I wanted, and he gave me a price. It was expensive, but it was going to be made from solid oak, handmade leaded glass, and have everything I wanted. It was our first “real” piece of furniture, and by real I mean heirloom quality. Our sofa wasn’t going to be passed on to our kids, nor was any of the put-it-together particle board stuff we had, but this piece, this craftsmanship, will be around for a few generations.
Well, some things have changed over the years. TVs are thin and don’t require such large and sturdy base units. We don’t have any VHS tapes at all, nor do we use our CDs now that most everything is digitized. We had actually bought some things to put in the display cabinets so they looked good, and we no longer want stuff like that, those random decorations that don’t have any real significance to us. And, the thing is huge. It’s taller than I am, about nine feet wide, and although it was adjacent to the only window in the room, it basically blocked the natural sunlight from most of the space. It dominated our family room. We needed to do something.
We discussed getting rid of it, and by discussed I mean I thought about it for about 30 seconds. I love that piece of furniture for all sorts of reasons, and even if TVs are never big and boxy again, I couldn’t imagine parting with it. I realized I was attached to it. We bought something smaller and more colorful that really fits our lifestyle better now. But what to do with the old one?
Now, believe it or not, I suspected this day would come when I had the piece made. I don’t know how or why I did, but I did. And my forethought is now paying off, in the sense that I can keep it and use it in a new way without having something that’s totally obsolete. The two towers that make up the sides of the unit are made in such a way that they can be pushed together once the center pieces (base unit and center lighted cabinet) are removed. That leaves a cabinet with lighted display cases on top, glass doors with shelves in the middle of each tower, and enclosed storage at the bottom. If you didn’t know it had come from an entertainment center you might just think it is a fancy bookcase on steroids. That part of the unit is going to find new life in my office, where I still have things to display and can always use more room for books. (You may remember that I have a thing about books when it comes to cleaning out as well!)
I still can’t believe that I thought of this a decade and a half ago. I suppose I had learned, even as a young twenty-something, that things – tastes, styles, needs change. It seems uncharacteristic as I think back on it, but then again, not entirely. Many things that are going to be lasting have to adapt and change. I was married, knowing that I had met the woman for me, but unsure of what the future would bring. I knew then, and know now that marriages last when, among other things, they are adaptable and flexible. We do change and grow as we age. I suppose I was aware that furniture is not nearly so permanent, nor is it intended to be these days (based on how a lot of it is made). Not like it used to be.
Having children is similar. Those little things grow up and get bigger. Every time I get an age figured out, they get older and enter a new one and I have to learn that too. I’m pretty sure I’ve just about got it by now though… Life, as it turns out, is about adaptability, change, repurposing, reusing. God says, “Behold, I make all things new.” That means us too. I’ve learned again and again that my plans need to change and adapt and grow along with me. I’m grateful that I must have known this so long ago when I drew up those plans. I’m not ready to give that piece of furniture up yet, and I don’t have to. Maybe one day I will. But probably not.
Grant, Almighty God, that the commemoration of our Lord’s death and resurrection may continually transform our lives and be manifested in our deeds; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.