And this is why we don’t cling too tightly to the things of this world.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy.
(Lord, may we add mold to the list?)
… But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”
— Matthew 6:19-20
The phone call came last week from the couple who live next to our little summer cabin on the lake.
“I’m sorry to tell you this, Jennifer,” Kathy hesitated, “But water is just gushing out the patio door of your cabin.”
A water main broke, filling the basement. We sent the plumber over to fix it right away, but the damage had already been done. Humidity and rising temperatures over these last weeks have been an accelerating potion. Tiny, microscopic spores burst into fuzzy patches that have grown and multiplied.
Mold has destroyed our lakeside cabin.
It was nothing fancy, this cabin, but much life and joy have bloomed under that ramshackle roof. We bought it early in our marriage, before we had children. Together, we painted every room, and we nailed and we hammered and … yes, even duct-taped a little dream on a lakeshore.
We filled it with third-hand furniture and family photographs and memories upon memories.
We named it Bela Vista, in honor our dear Brazilian friends who have a farm by the same name near Sorocaba, Brazil. (Bela Vista means “beautiful view” in Portuguese.)
The views are still beautiful, but no more will we watch sunsets from the deck of our little cabin. Because the house will come down. These ol’ walls will be trucked to a landfill, buried with the discarded waste of a four-county area.
Lydia, with the wise words, whispered in my ear today: “It’s OK, Mom. People are more important than things.”
Yesterday afternoon, we donned the white suits and the masks and the rubber gloves, and we laughed as we posed. We looked like CSI investigators headed into a crime scene.
Then, we went in for our first — and last — look at the cabin. We would recover as much as we could, as quickly as we could.
Scott opened the squeaky screen door into our cottage, all polka-dotted by wildly multiplying spores. I heaved a sigh, feeling my own hot breath under the mask. Was there a single square-inch untouched by the destruction?
I snapped frame after frame, with no time to linger over the spot where I tugged a swimsuit over Lydia’s tiny frame before her first-ever boat ride. No time to pause at the kitchen table where we held Anna’s June birthday parties. No time to linger at the windows where we watched Okoboji sunsets and Fourth of July fireworks. No time to run gloved fingers along the nine-pound stuffed walleye I caught on the Lund, or the pillow decorated with the campanile. (The pillow was a gift from Mom, and a reminder of Scott’s marriage proposal to me under our college campus campanile.)
This is all landfill waste now.
There was so little to rescue. We pulled a few mementos onto the lawn, and packed them into the trailer.
As Scott locked up the cabin door for the last time, I surveyed the smattering of items we’d recovered. I also made a mental inventory of what they would haul to the landfill — pretty much everything we’d collected over all these years.
It’s just stuff. It really is. I have to say it to remind myself of this truth. For it is Truth.
Here’s the real treasure:
The memories of the birthday parties,
and the boat rides,
and the family reunions,
and the times we made pillow nests for rainy-day movies,
and Anna’s first steps on that carpet,
and the candlelight dinners,
and the bunk-bed forts,
and the decision to paint the basement in the craziest, wildest bright colors!
And the time we sang at the top of our lungs with the Nadas
until 2 in the morning.
And the waking up to early-morning pleas for sunrise boat rides.
None of that goes to the landfill.
For these are the things etched on hearts and memories. These are the things we store up, the real treasures that point to lasting God-deposits on who we are as a people, as a family. These are the parts untouched by moths and rust and mold.
Where is our treasure? It is, indeed, where our hearts are.