I stared at it for what seemed like an eternity. I remembered finding this piece of silver at a garage sale years ago, one of many I had rescued over the years. Tarnished and ignored, it had sat in someone’s cabinet or drawer and now after what I assumed was a tortuous process they had decided to part with it.

More than likely it only cost me a couple of dollars, still, I took it home and with care and love polished it, hid it away, treasured it. I imagined the grand dinner parties I would someday give, of friends remarking on the beauty of every place setting, each one unique and refined. Of the joy I would have in telling them how little I had actually paid for everything. How I had found this particular piece under a pile of junk on a folding table or that one in a box of someone else’s discarded dreams.

I have always loved the idea of an elegant dinner with a few close friends. The ideal wine served in fine crystal glasses; chosen not only for its subtle nuances that precisely matched the palates of the dinner guests, but whose characteristics were also in perfect harmony with the entrée.

Perhaps I did use this silver tray once, I can’t be sure. I ended up after so many years with so many garage sale finds that I stopped polishing each piece, stopped displaying them in my sideboard. Instead I would wrap each one carefully, place it in a plastic container and hope that the oxygen wouldn’t get to it too much, so that when – if, I ever had that party I could simply unwrap everything and not have to spend too much time in preparation, silver polish in hand. My time it seemed was becoming more precious and less.

But now I found myself at a crossroads. A widow, a single mother of three, selling the only house my children had ever thought of as home. I never had a home myself, I am a nomad by nature and by experience; my home has always been wherever my feet have taken me. Once again I had no idea where the path ahead of us would lead; no expectations of what our lives would look like in the future.

I had struggled for years collecting things, bits and pieces of a life lived here and there. I moved so often I finally lost count of how many times I had packed and unpacked, each time dragging with me not only cherished memories but tangible evidence of them as well. Souvenirs of each experience, each friend, each place that had been a part of my life. But now, seeing all these things together in one place, well, the burden of carrying them any further began to overwhelm me. I had my children in my arms now and I was beginning to feel that some things needed to be put down so I would be able to hold them well enough, close enough.

So I stood, looking at my long forgotten silver, wondering should I now be the one to place this tarnished beauty, this treasure lost in the garage sale pile? I might still use it – I could have that dinner party one day, when the kids were older and off on their own, when my friends and I weren’t quite so busy.

Then it suddenly hit me like awakening into a sunrise after a dark and moonless night. Yes, someday I may actually find the time to polish all the silver treasures I had found over the years, but if I did finally have the time, would I really want to spend it polishing silver?

So I stood there holding in my hand what once had appeared to me a fine and precious metal, but now only looked like weighted lead

You see the truth is I do have dinner with friends quite frequently and sometimes the wine is spectacular, but more often than not it’s a beer drunk straight from the bottle, which is more than fine. What I realized in that moment, that epiphany, is that my priorities have become such that I would rather eat on paper plates than fine china. That it’s more important for me to have leisurely yet great conversations with friends then spend time washing crystal carafes and polishing silver. My priorities were never that far off-center actually, but in my youth I had an unrealistic expectation that I could somehow do it all. I think perhaps I had the notion that I would be a better friend, maybe even a better person if I could live a life touched by elegant things.

So the silver tray was placed, with a certain amount of joy on the garage sale table next to an old waffle iron and some spatulas. As I laid it down a lightness found me and I realized I have with age and wisdom arrived at a resting place, a place where I don’t desire silver treasures anymore, in fact it is quite the contrary. They have come to represent to me all the immaterial objects that I have held onto throughout my life, the things that don’t ground me but in reality pull me just below the surface of the water. Now more than ever my time, especially the time I have been given to spend with ones so loved as my children and friends is gold.

Travelin’ Light
Written by: Allison Mellon, Marc Byrd, Brown Bannister and Steve Hindalong
“Well I was doublin’ over the load on my shoulders
Was a weight I carried with me every day.
Crossin’ miles of frustration and rivers a ragin’
Pickin’ up stones I found along the way.

I staggered and I stumbled down pathways of trouble
I was haulin’ those souvenirs of misery.
And with each step taken my back was breakin’
‘til I found the One who took it all from me.

Down by the riverside,
I laid my burdens down now I’m travelin’ light
My spirit lifted high,
I found my freedom now and I’m travelin’ light.

Through the darkest alleys and loneliest valleys
I was draggin’ those heavy chains of doubt and fear.
Then with one word spoken the locks were broken
Now He’s leading me to places where there are no tears.

Down by the riverside,
I laid my burdens down now I’m travelin’ light
My spirit lifted high,
I found my freedom now and I’m travelin’ light.

From the album: Songs from the 23rd Psalm/Traveling Light
Music inspired by the writings of Max Lucado and the Psalmist David
Available at http://www.independentbands.com/cd/travelinglight.html
Copyright 2002 Mellon/Byrd/Bannister/Hindalong