Recently, I went to an estate sale with one of my friends. We were excited about the deals we would find there, having checked out the contents online. We were in line with almost 100 people, all waiting to go on a treasure hunt. In fact, we were numbers 83 and 84 on the list.
After waiting for about a half hour, it was our turn to enter. I entered and headed toward the kitchen, where I milled with other interested parties. I made my way back toward the living room and down the hallway toward the bedrooms when, all of a sudden, I was struck with a sinking feeling: someone had recently died.
As I walked down the hallway, I began to feel a little creeped out. I thought to myself, “This is all that is left? You are here and then you are gone and all that is left are your belongings?”
I didn’t know the woman who lived there. (I only saw female clothing and belongings). But I imagine she had a web of relationships. She must have had an impact on those around her. Those people carry her true essence in their hearts. She likely left a meaningful legacy. But I was one of dozens of people who had come to purchase her leftover belongings at a discount.
As I type this, I’m realizing that this is a downer of a blog post so far. Sorry about that. However, I wanted to help us get in touch with the nature of our presence in this world, our impact and what we might leave behind.
It got me thinking about our trip a few years ago to Israel. We joined in on a tour and had an amazing time. But, if I stop and think about it, we were mostly perusing ruins, places where people had lived and died. And there are always archeological digs going on over there with experts learning new things about the people in history.
On one of those tour days we visited yet another site filled with monotone, clay-colored dirt and rocks. We rode a high-wire tram to get there; to see remnants of another moment in history. But it was much more than a pile of rocks and stone structures. It was Masada.
If you don’t know the story, click this Masada link and read a bit. Spoiler alert. It ends with hundreds of people committing mass suicide. It is a powerful story about the struggle between oppression and freedom. It is an astounding tale.
Above is one of the images of the monotone, clay-colored pile of rocks. This is actually Masada’s armory. The reason the archaeologists know that this was the armory is because they found thousands of arrowheads in this area.
At every location on our tour we were told about the people based on the structures and artifacts that were left behind.
As our tour guide was telling us this portion of the story, my mind wandered a bit and I wondered…If someone came to my house 1,000 years from now and, for some reason, there were still discernible artifacts among the rubble, what would people find? And maybe more important, what would they think of me because of what they found? What would they deduce based on my belongings?
Now I don’t have a bunch of amazing things in my home, but it really is the more day-to-day “stuff” that tells people how I live. If this stuff were miraculously preserved—the type of books, the style of music, my family photos, computers (and their contents), my closet, kitchen tools—what would it all say about me? What would they think was important to me?
It’s a question worth pondering for a moment. What would people from the future know about you from a review of your belongings?
Now, let’s turn it inward for a moment. What if the artifacts of your soul could be preserved? What if, 1,000 years from now, people could find remnants of your feelings, your thoughts, your beliefs, and the behaviors that sprang from those inner places? What would people learn about you from the history of your actual life? What would they determine was important to you?
I hope you are actually inspired by these questions. You might want to take some time to journal and reflect on them.
I may not know what kind of legacy the woman from the estate sale left, but I do have a say in what I will leave behind. And so do you.