Last Thanksgiving, I had the privilege of spending the weekend with my daughter, Cynde, in Cold Lake. I loved visiting with her and her family and helping her in her home decor store. But this time a new experience for me presented itself. An estate sale.
As per normal, unaware of protocol, I shadowed Cynde–until I saw a bookshelf holding some aged books. Thoughts of looking for furniture my daughter could take to her shop and ‘shabby’ evaporated. I started at the top shelf and inspected the books one by one. The novels were all books I’d read and owned many of them myself. But I found a reference book I could not leave behind. It was a hard cover called “History of England by G.M. Trevelyan.” And the dust cover was in better shape than some I’ve seen in bookstores. Delight swept through me. I’d found a treasure and I hugged it tightly while my daughter made her purchases. Because she bought several pieces of furniture, they gave me the book. I smiled. Double blessings in one day.
After I returned home, I curled up in my reading chair and opened my new book. Several pages of notes and English royalty family tree diagrams I hadn’t noticed at the estate were tucked between the cover and the first page. My toes curled back to my heels in glee.
As I sifted through the papers, something clicked in my ever-roaming brain and I paused to ponder what was lurking beyond the perimeter of my conscience. I’d found a book, and regardless of its age, it was in excellent shape. There was nothing out of the ordinary there. The title had grabbed my attention, making it something I wanted to acquire. Still nothing special about that. Then, it hit me, and my heart raced. Once I sat down to spend time with my new accusation, I found its real treasure.
My thoughts flew to the many times over the years new families had attended our church. I’d dutifully introduced myself and invited them to my home for coffee or to a community event. Most of the time, the people didn’t show up. This I understood. Like me, they were shy. But what I hadn’t grasped was by giving them an open invite with no actual time I’d put the responsibility of continuing interaction on them. My face burned.
If I had, like I had with my new book, lived in the moment, and invited them for brunch after the service that day, they would have more than likely accepted. But I had missed a beautiful opportunity to open communication and discover the treasures hidden between the pages of these families.
The realization left me humbled, but at the same time awed. Humbled, because I had neglected being a blessing to others and awed because God had used insignificant, unwanted book wedged between many others on an unwanted shelf to sharpen my dulled awareness.