Saturday, August 21, 2021


Congregational Lutheran 
United Church at 
The Lionel Train Set was an unexpected Christmas gift. Even sharing it with both older brothers did not diminish the fun it provided. A few years later I received a microscope set complete with a frog to dissect. It was mine. I could control if anyone else got to use it. From that time on gifts were individualized with no need or expectation to share. 

Our consumer driven society has emphasized accumulation over sharing. Pantries are filled with a wide variety of foods. Sharing happens a couple times a year during an organized food drive. Three or four stall garages have more square footage than the homes to which they are attached. Storage of stuff is a necessity. The seasonal equipment, sporting goods, motorized vehicles, and decorations need to go in an accessible place. Multiple items which I have accumulated are behind every closet door and under every plastic storage bin lid. Outdoor gear (gloves, head wear, snowshoes, etc) command a lot of space. I realize I only use one item at a time. Yet I want to be certain to  have the proper gear for changing conditions. As the saying goes, "You never know when you may need it."

Heirlooms of tableware

Marie Kondo, the decluttering expert says if something does not spark joy, dispose of it. She obviously does not agree with or maybe has never heard the aforementioned phrase. Living by Ms. Kondo's concepts would make for smaller garages and smaller houses. Fewer storage units would dot the landscape. This all may cause a scarcity of thrift stores. 

Congregational Lutheran United Church has been declining for decades. Members are aging. Others have moved. Those who have recently moved into Gardner, ND  are not interested in the congregational community. The church does not spark joy in their daily lives. Even, "You never know when you may need it," has not generated enough discomfort or guilt to create change. Guilt has often been used to promote the "what ifs" in life as a type of religious insurance policy. Maybe it is more about    whole life than a specific event policy?  Hopefully the building will sell and be repurposed as a residence or demolished so a new home can be constructed.  The latest message on the outdoor sign, "This was our house. It can now be your's." 

Moving day.

If it cannot be used often, if it does not spark joy, if its enjoyment value is not readily available it will no longer be used. This is why ride sharing services are available. Why own a vehicle and rarely use it? All it does parked is depreciate. Money can be made delivering people, packages, or both. The shared Lionel train provided multiple people enjoyment. The tableware filling shelves in the condo, which has meaning for my spouse, has no meaning for our children.  The pews, pictures, decorations, books, and kitchen wares of the congregation have little value. No one thought about how to dispose of brass altar ware when the items were purchased  and given in memory of someone. 

Value is not in the accumulation. Value is discovered and appreciated in the usage. The significant life events, the gatherings of families, the noise of church basements filled with children were enhanced by those purchased and memorialized items. People wanted to provide these meaningful experiences for future generations. However, they had no way to foresee the changes. Changes in place and perspective have relegated tableware, pew cushions, combined TV, VHS and CD players, etc. to thrift stores and household waste disposal sites. This stuff is not indicative of the people who gave of their resources to purchase the items. The people sparked joy and continue to spark joy in the sharing of life. It is the accumulation of memories and the stories of relationships with others that will never be discarded!

Communion Set from
the late 1800's
This Communion set has not been used in the 10+ years that I have been involved with Congregational Lutheran United Church. The letter which came with this gift over 100 years ago is framed and legible. Plans are to "regift" it back to the generous congregation which provided it. 

Now everything is disposable. No one wants to wash small, glass Communion cups. During a long period in the ongoing pandemic self-contained, all-in-one Communion cups were used.  It is not the vessels. It is the people who gather and share!

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