Do you ever re-discover something you haven’t thought of for years? Last week I spied something through the clear plastic cover of a box of books I had taken from my old bedroom. It was the maroon NIV Bible my parents had given me when I was fourteen. I pulled it out and opened it to find the front and back pages covered in the handwritten, heartfelt messages of young people I had once done a summer scheme with. As I read them again after nearly twenty years, I was close to tears.
Then this week as I looked through it again with my daughter, a fragile pressed wild flower fell out. I can’t remember when I picked it in Donegal, or why, but when it was suggested to me that I put it in the bin (sadly a question I frequently put to her), I couldn’t do it.
Yesterday my wee girl brought in a crumbling, pale blue egg shell she had found on our front step. I opened my mouth to say, throw that out, but then I stopped myself. To her, it was a wonderful discovery, a thing to be treasured. So it’s annoying me on the kitchen window-sill now.
We too often think that we can just bin things and buy a replacement. Something’s broken? Don’t worry, don’t waste your time trying to mend it, just get another one. But there are some things that should not be consigned to landfill, things that cannot ever be replaced, and these are the most valuable of all- these crumbling, broken objects that hold a memory of happy moments, gifts given with love.
So go on, have a hoke through your own boxes, your roof-space or the back of your cupboards and see what you find. And whatever you do, don’t bring a bin-bag.