Most people are
collectors at heart; an inner urge to gather to themselves some
unique objects that give meaning to their lives. The phenomenon of
E-bay and appeal of magazine articles devoted to the subject reveal a
vast majority of our country’s population are enamored with objects
and avidly collect them.
I’m a collector of
figurines. Not just any type or style, I focus on figurines depicting
old men and women dressed in the attire of our country’s frontier
period. These plainly dressed people are engaged in simple activities
like throwing feed to chickens at their feet or carrying a basket of
carrots just pulled from the garden. I began this collection with a
gift from an older woman I’d befriended and helped with chores she
found too difficult to do in her advanced age.
“This will remind you
of me,” she said with a smile as she handed me a six-inch bisque
statuette of an old woman. The model wore a plain skirt that reached
her ankles and her hair was pulled back into a bun at the nape of her
neck. That began what has become an obsession for me.
As I wander second-hand
stores, flea markets and yard sales, I keep a lookout for companion
pieces. At first, I concentrated only on female figures. Then one day
I came across a matched pair. Two elderly folks who obviously spent a
lifetime of companionship together and had now entered their twilight
years. He sits and plays with the puppy at his feet, tempting the
animal with a possible snack in his outstretched hand. She stands
with hands folded, looking down at the cat winding itself around her
feet. How could I separate this charming pair?
My collection has
multiplied as husband, family and friends shower me with new
additions. As a birthday present, my husband on year splurged on an
elegant couple dressed in the attire of English gentry of the
nineteenth century. Another came from a sister whose hobby is
painting ceramics. She sent me one of her creations, a woman seated
in a rocking chair, open book in hand. I especially treasure that one
because I'm such a voracious reader.
As the number of
figurines increased, I called on my husband’s carpentry talents to
build custom shelves on which to display them. My collection now
numbers over fifty and gives me great pleasure.
Some kinds of collections
come together with ease. Like all collections, once you begin them,
they grow. At times the adventure of seeking out and finding unique
figurines not yet in my collection will take over my life. However,
after several years, finding a unique and different figurine to add
to my collection of old men and women becomes more and more elusive.
I continue to get enjoyment from my burgeoning collection of
But there are some
collections that people should never begin; the collecting of
grudges, jealousies, self-pitying and envies. That type of collecting
does not bring pleasure. We all know someone who keeps a mental
checklist of hurts and slights received through the years. He or she
takes it out for reviewing on a regular basis, recalling over and
over those inflictions as if polishing something cherished. Those who
collect reasons for self-pity never seem happy with their collections
and find it easy to add to the accumulation. They appear to exhibit a
radar-like sensitivity to exchanges that will enhance their
collection, sometimes rearranging events to position themselves on
the receiving end–just to add another item to their collection.
It’s hard to befriend
someone who collects jealousies and envies. Nothing satisfies;
they’re never content with what they have. This discontent places
the other person in opposition. No matter how hard you try to get
along, they will always question your intent, twist your well-meaning
words around, make something you said in innocence become a put-down
There’s a way to avoid
allowing those kinds of collections from growing in our lives.
Galatians 5:22 speaks about the right kind of collecting. As we
gather the fruit of the Spirit this passage talks about–love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control–there will be no room for those other collections
Instead of grouching because the checker is slow, send that tired
cashier a gentle smile. Driving an older friend to a doctor’s
appointment is guaranteed to earn you a hug of gratefulness. Now
that’s a collection I can make room for!