There’s a lot of talk about peace at Christmastime, but how do we capture peace? It seems so elusive in a world fraught with terrorism, murder, mayhem, sickness and broken relationships.
Despite my relationship with Jesus – called the Prince of Peace – I struggled with possessing consistent sense of peace for much of my life. I had peace with God. At age 12, I’d trusted Jesus’ death as payment for my sins and invited him into my life. But I didn’t have the peace of God.
I wrestled with peace after my parents’ died, and even years later, ached with grief as I worked to clean out their home. On the fifth summer of my mother’s death and the eighth of my father’s, I started to bring things of theirs to my home to use instead of packing them away. I brought over a Corning wear baking dish, a slotted spoon and a hand towel I’d found in my father’s bowling bag. A sad face was monogrammed on the terrycloth. “Dry your tears on me,” it read.
Was I less of a Christian because I grieved so sorely? I wasn’t at peace. Not with their deaths. Not with a lot of things.
Do you ever feel like a dead loved one is near? I realized a distinct intensity to the feeling this Christmastime. It was without explanation, and then in less than 24 hours, I understood why.
I don’t believe in visitations from the dead, nor should we seek them out. On the other hand, I believe loved ones in heaven may occasionally see what is going on down here. They see us.
Obviously, we don’t see them, but we try to keep them alive and present in this world. This is never more evident than at Christmas.
We make their recipes – “like grandma used to make” – we follow traditions in their memory, wear their clothes or their jewelry, linger in spaces they occupied, and tell stories about them.
I am not a hoarder. I am attached to stuff, but I am not a hoarder.
Now before you say “the lady doth protest too much,” I must explain. Before I asked whether I was a hoarder, I asked whether my parents were hoarders. I inherited all their stuff. A lot of stuff.
Charged with cleaning out their home, I didn’t know where to start. I found folders of utility receipts stuffed between a living room chair and table. I discarded a broken microwave that had been standing on end in the floor for years. The bedrooms where my brother and I slept as children had long been the abode of cats. They ruined the carpets and scarred the furniture.
Did you know there are levels of hoarding? I went to a mini-seminar in November 2014. It was conducted by Dr. David Dia, a hoarding specialist with some national prominence. A Memphian, he’s appeared on TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive.