I love collecting things.  Finding something that I really like and then searching for a new addition is such fun.  I collect quilts, bird things, antique furniture, and tole trays- to name a few.  E. and I love to go to antique stores, flea markets, garage sales- anywhere new treasures might be unearthed.  This past weekend in Bardstown, we went to a few places we had never been before, and that collectors instinct was awakened in me.  I have a large collection of tole trays that I have collected over the past few years, beginning with an old TV tray that came from my grandmother.  They come mostly from garage sales and antique stores.  A few are nice, hand-painted and unusual; most of them are cheap and a few are even kind of ugly.  But taken all together, the collection looks cool (they are all hanging together on my kitchen wall).

Thinking about getting started on redoing our kitchen reminded me that I wanted a few more trays to go above the sink.  This led me naturally to eBay.  Why had I never thought of this before?  Of course eBay would have them!  So I typed in my search, and lo-and-behold- my trays became garbage.  I mean, there were hundreds of beautiful trays- hand-painted in gorgeous colors, all shapes, sizes and subjects.  Some dated from the 1800’s.  I was amazed, and devastated.  I felt like crying.  My heart was heavy.  I told myself to turn the computer off and go to bed.  But I couldn’t- I had to see them ALL.  Finally at 1 am, I shuffled off to bed, strangely aching.

I just did not know what to think of myself.  Was I really that materialistic? I thought that I was doing better about that.  Why did I care so much?  I guess ignorance was better than knowing that such nice things existed and not being able to have them.  (I did not mention that I did not have money for new trays.)  I struggled with these feelings well into the next day when it dawned on me what was wrong.

I had been loving a copy of something.  It was as if all I knew of water was puddles, and then saw a beautiful stream.  Or if I discovered how much I loved pasta by eating at Fazolis and then went to Italy.  Or if listening to Bryan Adams awakened my soul to music and then I heard Gillian Welch.  I had discovered something that I loved and thought it was what I loved, but then realized it was a cheap imitation of the real thing.

It is not that my trays were bad, they just were not the real thing.  How much is this the case in my life?  I think that everything that I love, resonates with me because it is a reflection of something greater- God Himself.   When I discover something beautiful, it stirs me because it is a reflection of Beauty.  When a romantic love story makes my heart long, it is because I am longing for Love Himself.  When I experience joy, exhilaration, companionship, laughter, satisfaction, or rest- it touches me because of what it reveals to me about Truth.  All the good longings that I have are designed to lead me to Jesus.  All the beauty I see is designed to show Him to me.  I should not be surprised when such things happen, but instead rejoice that God has allowed me to have a small taste of eternity.  I hope that I will never be satisfied with less.