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Stowing Treasures in Heaven

Stowing Treasures in Heaven

by Theresa Newell

In my dream, I was exploring a large house with many rooms. In the basement I found a sort of museum of my life. There were paintings of saints and friends who touched my life deeply. There were images of places I had loved—such as the maple that stood in the center of our schoolyard that would shower helicopter seeds on my best friend and me, delighting us with hours of fun. There were other items from my past, too: my discolored, puddle-soaked Raggedy Ann doll, my hard-earned collection of eraser animals, books that comforted me, my own children’s baby clothes, gifts I had received from people who loved me. I looked around at these images and items, all so precious to me, and touched again these beloved, long-gone, treasures. Memories came flooding back. Love for what I had experienced welled up. Love for myself, who I had been, what had touched and formed me—all welled up inside me. I awoke with tears running down my cheeks. I miss each one of these items, these times, these places, these perspectives. I will never experience any of them in the same way again.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rustconsume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rustconsumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.”  (Mt. 6:19-20, NRSV)

Maybe all these items, people, places, and events are not gone. They are treasures stored up for me in heaven. I can pull them down into my heart—hold them again in my memory. They are each part of me. They are stored in my soul where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. They are mine. They are all important. 

Having to give up what we love is a universal human experience. How we handle losses makes us each unique. Since this dream, I have been consciously stowing treasures in heaven. When an experience touches me, I stop and take a mental snapshot, wrapping the experience in gratitude. When our family is laughing together, I pause and ever so briefly, commit the scene to memory, give thanks for this time, and store it in heaven where I will see it again. A mug, which my aunt gave to me in childhood, broke. As I swept the broken pieces, I remembered how drinking from this mug made ordinary times feel special. I touched the pieces, thanking the mug one last time before letting the pieces go. I will see it again—another treasure in heaven.  Before moving across country, my children and I went into each room of our empty house, remembering things that happened there, thanking the room and the house. That house, the memories, the scenes, the yard—all are stored for me in heaven. The things we truly love are never gone. They remain part of us forever. 

Theresa Newell is a hospital chaplain and aspirant for Holy Orders in the Diocese of Olympia. She lives just outside of Seattle, Washington with her husband, her youngest son, and their dog. 

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Ann

I very much appreciate your reverence and reflections on precious memories.

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