The American reality television series called American Pickers has popularized the little known past-time of “picking.” This captivating show of exploring barns, sheds, workshops, and attics in hopes of discovering unique, collectible, and sometimes valuable items of Americana vaulted the program to the History Channel’s highest-rated show. In my case, I don’t have to go far to “pick” some valuable treasures of my own.
My post of May 11, 2018, The Throne of A Mother’s Grace, detailed how my late wife and I discovered a family heirloom, an old rocking chair, in my grandmother’s dilapidated chicken coop turned storage shed. That was in 1972, well before “picking” became a national phenomenon or a theme to a nationally syndicated television show.
Every now and then, I still go picking…where all my family “stuff” is stored.
This past week, I opened a few boxes tucked away in my attic. You know the kind I mean, those boxes holding long-forgotten keepsakes and mementos that have value only to you, the kind of boxes that my family will likely toss in the garbage after I am gone.
Except these boxes, I discovered, held some priceless treasures. I found two Bibles, one belonging to my mother, the other belonging to my great-grandmother. There was also an envelope that contained a few receipts from 1974, a coconut cake recipe, and a folded piece of paper, browned by time. I have learned never to toss such wisps of paper, as you never know the secrets they may display. Are they merely a decades-old grocery store receipt or, as I found recently, the hospital billing invoice for my birth in 1951?
The four-inch-long tanned strip that caught my attention had print only on one side. Though unsure of its source, I did not doubt its purpose. In bold print at the top of the strip, its title declared, “This Thing Called Prayer.”
I assumed my late wife or maybe my mom or even my grandmother might have snipped it off a flyer or newspaper. Well then, if someone thought it worth keeping, I should at least pause to read it.
This Thing called Prayer
My seven-year-old daughter, Scoop and I were having “tea” in her little playhouse, an old shed behind the home we rented. Scoop had worked hard to fix up the place, and we sat down to a cloth-covered table with a vase of blue flowers on it. But Scoop wasn’t satisfied. “This dirt floor gets dust on my curtains,” she announced. “Do you think we could put in a real floor?”
I knew our tight budget couldn’t afford it, and I told her so. “Then,” she said matter-of-factly. “I will just have to ask Good Jesus to help me get one.” And the next day, to my dismay, I heard Scoop tell a friend, “Yes, my playhouse is nice, but it will be better when Jesus gets me a real floor. I’m praying about it.”
I prayed too, but not for a playhouse floor. I prayed that Scoop’s faith in Jesus would not be weakened when her prayer was not answered. Meanwhile, Scoop went on sweeping and cleaning and having “teas.”
Then came the afternoon when I heard her calling. “Come look, Mama! Come see my floor.”
I rushed to the playhouse. Sure enough. With each sweep of her broom, Scoop was uncovering a solid cement floor. It had been there all the time, but had been covered over with layers and layers of dirt.
Scoop accepted her new floor matter-of-factly, but I didn’t. It was time for me to reexamine my own faith and prayers. Perhaps a new broom would help.”
Pickers value their finds based on how much they are worth. Like the time, I discovered the current day value (about $20) of a 1943 French coin my father brought back from his World War II service in Europe. But there are things more valuable than money. Or, as one unknown philosopher said, “The most important things in life aren’t things.”
I think a little girl named Scoop knows more about the important things than many adults. Many of us just pray and wait. Not Scoop. I love knowing that while she prayed for a floor, she kept on “sweeping and cleaning.”
I hope you enjoyed this little reflection about a time-worn strip of print from a bygone era picked out of a neglected box in the dark recesses of my attic. Maybe you learned something like I did. Oh, yes, an adventure may be waiting for you in some forgotten box in your attic. But I already knew that. My takeaway?
I think a new broom would help me too.