When you live in a certain place for upwards of 30 years, you’re inclined to claim ownership of the spot. But in truth, we’re really more like squatters, aren’t we?
In the grand scheme of things, we wind up being mere “borrowers” of our space, even if we’ve been blessed by a sense of permanence and stability. Recently I stumbled upon some archeologic evidence of this enduring truth, right near the entrance to my garage.
We’re having all our bathrooms redone, you see…along with new carpeting laid on the upper floor of our home. So for the past couple of months, we’ve had construction crews and installers hanging about – replacing (and upgrading) things that have outlived their usefulness.
All this work is now complete, but the dust hasn’t quite settled on the jolt I experienced when I first saw some of the “trash” from the demo stage of the projects. One piece of detritus in particular: the sink top that had been removed from the powder room.
I noticed it had “M T Miller” scrawled on the reverse of the backsplash – written there by some supplier, shortly before this house became “our” home. The builder’s name, not the owner’s, had been used to designate where this material was to be delivered in the early 1990s.
And I realized that if some future archeologist had dug up the spot, she or he might very well assume “Millers” had lived in this place, not “Schroeders”, for all these many years. Just that easily, every trace of the full life we’ve lived in this place could have been erased.
What then does endure? “Miller’s sink” provided a stark reminder that we can’t count on the stuff we accumulate to mark the outlines of our lives. But relationships do seem to matter. When the stories of our lives are intertwined with others’, something important is preserved for posterity.
We may not know the names of the Christians who lived in first-century Corinth, for example. But we do know that together, they loved and they believed. Saint Paul tells us so in the second reading we hear at Mass this week:
…to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace is the legacy of the Christian community in Corinth, not the stuff they owned or the homes where they lived. And isn’t it wonderful to know that we share in this very same gift…this grace and peace of Christ…today?
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.