At the time of this writing, evacuees on Hawaii’s Big Island await a volcanic eruption that could send boulders the size of pianos flying through the air. The whole scenario has me wondering what sort of things would I bother to save if I had to evacuate.
Well, first I would, of course, rescue the three P’s: people, pets and pictures.
After that, I’d gather the kinds of ordinary things I’ve learned to call “sacred.”
I’d save the Gerber pocketknife my brother-in-law gave me 35 years ago. I viewed it as the knife MacGyver carried to skin something, carve something or defend sweethearts against roving street gangs.
I know saving a pocketknife seems ludicrous, but you can’t always choose your sacred things. They choose you.
I’d also collect my 1979 Baylor University class ring. I bought the ring shortly after my roommate predicted that I’d never graduate because he didn’t consider me “Baylor material.”
Despite his prediction, I did graduate. After the ceremony, I gave the ring to my girlfriend, now wife, as a makeshift promise ring. She knew I revered the ring and, therefore, it was a sacred promise to her.
A few months later we traded it for a proper engagement ring. From that day forward, I’ve worn the ring as a consecrated reminder to keep my promise and finish what I’ve started.
I’d also be certain to grab the New King James Bible that Susan Bradley, a parishioner, gave me in 1988. The Bible is the out-of-print Robert Schuller’s Positive Thinking Bible that highlights the optimistic scriptures in blue.
The Bible is special because Susan was special. She and her husband, Bill, loaned us the down payment we needed between the sale of our first home and the purchase of our second.
While we weren’t much of a risk, it was a lot of money. At the time, I knew Bill had cancer, but Susan kept her cancer a secret. A few years later, I read from her Bible while officiating at their funerals. The Bible is the tangible demonstration of a sacred trust.
Finally, I’d save my trumpet, a pawnshop purchase that’s never worked well. The valves randomly shift and produce a sound similar to that of a wounded animal. The trumpet is not sacred at all.
What is sacred is the effort my wife made to buy it. She bought it to replace my boyhood trumpet that was stolen from the church where I was pastoring. She saw the heart-hurt the petty thief had caused, so she scrimped for six months on a newlywed budget to save enough money to replace it.
I no longer have the breath to play the instrument nor the inclination to fix it, but I keep it for the determination she made to heal me from the painful loss.
Sacredness isn’t limited to religion. In fact, it may even be sacrilegious to try to separate the sacred from the ordinary. Sacredness often lives in everyday spaces and within the things we allow God’s love to permeate.
After I grabbed these sacred things, I’d let my plasma-screen TV and my computer go up in smoke. Besides, I’m insured, so I’d later do what any geek would do after a devastating fire: buy a bigger TV and a faster computer.
I’m curious — what sacred things would you rescue? Share your answer with someone special and then e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voicemail at (843) 608-9715.
Reach Robert Behre at 843-937-5771. Follow him on Twitter @RobertFBehre.