‘Stuff’, Just ‘Stuff’

Ashley WiersmaThe story that follows made me think of when I was living in Santa Fe, NM and the disastrous Cerro Grande Fire occurred in May 2000. The fire started as a controlled burn, and became uncontrolled due to high winds and drought conditions. 400+ families in the town of Los Alamos lost their homes, and some structures at Los Alamos National Laboratory were destroyed or damaged; amazingly, there was no loss of human life.

Besides breathing in the smoke down south in Santa Fe, I was impacted by the stories of people telling about the possessions they’d chosen to take with them when they had to hastily evacuate. It made me (and many others I know) think about what was really most important in life when push comes to shove.

This story also made me think of a time during my earlier years here in Sedona when my then-husband and I found ourselves at bottom financially. We moved into someone’s furnished basement for a month, but first had to choose what to take with us for our daily lives and our business, and what to store – what a powerful ‘ah-ha!’ It’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ we can live without. It’s equally amazing how we can let our ‘stuff’ rule our lives if we don’t stay conscious.

Here’s the August 10, 2015 Daily Guideposts story of Ashley Wiersma from Monument, Colorado.

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…” – Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

A forest fire that had been raging several miles away for days had jumped two parallel canyons and now threatened countless neighborhood homes. From our patio, I stood with the neck of my T-shirt pulled over my mouth in an attempt to filter the smoke in the air and stared at tall, angry flames in the distance as they licked their way toward the sky.

My husband had declared it go-time, asking me to pack our bags and get ready to load up, but as I scurried through every room of our home, I reached for surprisingly few things: a stack of my old journals; my favorite sweater; my purse; Prisca’s favorite stuffed dog, Ike; Perry’s beloved baseball cap; a few changes of clothes; our toothbrushes; some pajamas; and books and snacks. What else did we need, really? What else made our life life?

I wandered back through the rooms before heading to the car, snapping photos of each space. There was artwork I treasured, clothing I adored, cookbooks whose recipes I’d made for years. That handmade afghan from Nana, the angel figurine from my mom, decades’ worth of scrapbooked scenes. But these things proved ancillary to life that is truly life. If our house was to be consumed by fire, these things would go up in flames. And so I went ahead and said good-bye to all my stuff that’s just stuff in the end.

Father, help me to hold my stuff loosely today.

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