I have been here before—preparing for the yard-sale of the century, I mean. Getting ready to leave my home, unsure of what is next. Decluttering so that prospective buyers can walk through the house without tripping on the dog toys. It’s a great exercise in paring down, in letting go of the superfluous, in shedding the cumber collected through chapters of this or that hobby or passion.

Like a snake molting and blindly slithering into transition, here I am, lightening the years ahead by gifting possessions from the years past. The buffet and china cabinet store fine linens and family heirlooms in their new home in Mississippi, where familiar paintings, like close companions, hang nearby.  

The goat barn, too, has been decluttered. No more need for those milk buckets, baby bottles and cheese-making supplies. Our precious herd of Alpine does, rehomed to assorted farms, do not miss us as we miss them. They have the gift of living only in the present, where they browse contentedly and accept whatever is offered up on any given day.

And then there are the books. Hundreds of them. Books read and re-read; books with stiff bindings never softened; volumes with comments in margins, words highlighted, passages underlined, pages crimped, post-it notes declaring gems of profundity.  All boxed up and labeled.

So now I see the walls in my study—bare walls previously lined with floor to ceiling bookcases stuffed with psychology, theology, spirituality, self-help, world religions, biblical studies. One 3’ x 3’ bookcase survives, shelving lighter fare—novels, memoirs, poetry, cook-books, and devotional readings…along with some old friends like Thoreau and Shakespeare, Buddha and the Bible.

Like the goats, the books are off to their new homes. Folks peruse table after table of bargains in Sandburg Hall, at the annual church book sale; they casually finger volumes that have been my companions for decades. They carry them home in paper bags and place them properly in their libraries. Maybe they will even read some of them.

And like the goats, the books are indifferent to who thumbs their pages and invites them into inner conversation. They don’t know they are missed. But they flourish in new places, where they have been dusted off and given new life. Some will reappear at next year’s church book sale…and the next and the next, offering testimony to reincarnation.

5 Responses so far.

  1. Richard Waldman says:

    Sarah, thanks as always for sharing your thoughts and the vision of the world you inhabit. Richard

  2. Ellen Livingston says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for that message–I am so reminded of what I have gone through with donwnsizing all my UU minister’s collection of books, papers, files, sermons etc. What to keep, what to throw in the dumpster. Ouch. But I do keep some, sometimes referred to again, especially rites of passage which I still use for weddings and memorial services,sometimes preaching. My criteria are Will I ever look at this again? Will anyone? If not say thanks and blessing and don’t think about it anymore.
    I keep your books, thanks and I still remember our visit to you and your goats. A beautiful time for a visit to such an idyllic place and I will be interested in what happens next. Are you staying on the farm?

    with love and blessings, Ellen now living in Claremont , CA with a husband with dementia but coping well among books, sermons and memories.

  3. Rene McMasters says:

    And at my wedding reception I wore my Sarah pearls… another example of something precious of yours… shared and given new life. Thank you my friend for blessing me!

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