Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Memory Inventory: Bless This House

Between July of 2000 and July 2005, I worked as a youth minister and pastoral associate with a small Catholic Church and mission community in Northern Virginia.  Over the five years I was there, I met a lot of wonderful people, and some of them gave me presents, usually around Christmas and end of the school year.  One of these gifts falls into the category of "stuff I carry around with me wherever I go and don't really know why."

This small plate, dish, or whatever has literally served over the years as a "catch-all."  I kept it on top of a small shelf and daily emptied the contents of my pockets onto it.  However, in our last two dwellings, I relegated it to the crate of stuff I move from place to place hoping that the irritation of its very presence will be lessened by its itinerant character.  [This crate and its contents are the inspiration behind my project to inventory the memories brought to mind by things in this apartment that I have not been able to leave behind.]

In absolute honesty, I cannot remember the person or occasion that brought this piece of steel into my life.  I vaguely remember the mother of one of the participants in our summer program presenting me with a gift at the end of the program.  I remember not expecting it.  I remember opening it and thinking, "What the heck am I going to do with this?"  I remember thinking, "I don't even have a house."  In fact, for the past 6-8 years (I estimate I received this in August of 2003, give or take a year) I only lived in a house for 3 of them (if you count the 2 years we spent on the third floor of a row-house in New Haven, CT).  What I do remember is parents' gratitude every year that I did that summer program.  It went through ups and downs, but the parents and the kids really appreciated it.  As cynical as I have become about youth ministry, I can't deny that there is something special about offering children a safe place to have fun, and to be an adult whose company they enjoy and with whom they enjoy their summer afternoons.

I don't really miss youth ministry.  But I do miss the kids and their parents.  This little plate calls those sentiments to mind.  That is a blessing to me.  I'm going to take it to Goodwill and hopefully it can be a blessing to someone else too. 

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