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Monday, January 15, 2018

Collecting a Lifestyle

Collecting a Lifestyle
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 figurines.

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 or slur.

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! 

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