Here's a news flash (for those of you who don't know him!): the Beve loves shopping--especially shopping for deals. He knows all the cheapest stores in town, and trust me, there are many. And when the weather gets warm and people begin clearing out their houses, and they put those little sticky circles on the junk they don't want, and the giant signs at the end of the block, he can turn the car on a dime to join the throngs of those who are salivating at what might be sitting on the tables in the driveway. Yessirree, a bonafide, card-carrying, garage-saler, that's my Beve. It's the thrill of the hunt, mostly. He loves the whole idea of a bargain, buying in bulk, and even getting things for free that we didn't know we needed a few minutes before. Beve loves seeing what others didn't notice, and recognizing the quality in it. Now I've gone to a garage sale or two with him, I admit. But my standard operating procedure is to head straight for the book table. Those books tell me everything I need to know about the sale, my interest and whether it's all worth my time. If they're junk--and trust me, I know junk books when I see them--I head back to the car and wait for the Beve, who's pawing through kitchen utensils, tools, and a whole variety of things you can't even believe.
He has come home with some amazing finds. I have a beautiful 19th century trunk sitting beside me as I write that he bought for 75$ at a garage sale ten years ago. That was a great day. And someone was selling an authentic (there's some information with it inside) African mask from the Ivory Coast that now hangs in my living room. An original painting, a sideboard someone made from a kit many years ago that we loaded into our tiny Toyota one day on Capital Hill in Seattle because Elizabeth wanted it for her apartment. But here's the thing. For every great find, there have been several questionable ones. More pie plates than you can shake a fist at that he plans to take to some friends in Canada someday, but they just keep piling up. Pitchers of all shapes and sizes. Tupperware, plates, towels, books (oh...ok, that's my fault...), those kitchen utensils, tools.
I can handle this hobby of Beve's on good days. It keeps him off the streets, after all. Literally off the streets and in other people's garages. But these treasures have cluttered up our lives, and today, when I have to shovel it out to make room for guests (exaggerating for effect here, folks--but just barely), it can annoy me. Overwhelm me. Our house is pretty dusty as well, after a long season with the pellets running through the stove. And our dogs bring in dirt, pine cones, and even the occasional rock and boulder to drop at our feet as an offering. All in all, with the various piles, the dust and grass (did I mention the grass from the lawncare business that travels through the house on the mowers' socks?), if one doesn't stay on top of things, it can begin to look like a pig sty around here.
Or a stable. I was thinking of that this afternoon as I was dusting. Pondering how my own life is that stable where a young couple stumbled in after dark, looking for a place to bed down for the night, and give birth to a child. The child, I should say. Even in the dirtiest, dustiest darkest places, Incarnation happens. In fact, my life--each of our lives--is always like that stable, dark, dingy and full of straw until He's born into it, bringing light and life and an angel chorus telling us who He is. We fill up our lives with treasures, garage sale or ones our world labels expensive. Meanwhile there He is, born in us, already in the stable of our lives a living treasure--"A Savior has been born to you."