As a “re-purposer” and bargain hunter I enjoy cruising the online classifieds. It’s fun looking for items you don’t have and probably don’t need but are really cheap. One ad I usually take time to look at is the estate sale, especially those with lots of photos. These are the sales in which the complete contents of a house, garage or workshop are on sale. The estate sale is a common occurrence in our society and commonly held after a person or persons have passed away.
But recently I’ve begun to look at estate sales in a different light. Instead of clicking through the photos looking for a great deal I’ve begun looking at the items on display as a collection of artifacts of a person who’s time on earth has come to an end. Seen in the collection of items are the contents of a shelf full of little mementos of vacations past or gifts from friends. Decorative items line the walls still hanging where the deceased carefully placed them. A stack of old vinyl records give a clue to the music enjoyed in years past. A garage filled with well-worn tools used many years to care for the small well-kept yard. There’s an alarm clock, still sitting on the nightstand where it faithfully woke someone to rise and go to work. Hundreds of items kept, stored, and cherished that were once thought valuable are now for sale for only pennies.
The estate sale is a reflection of a person’s life work and the gathering of material things. The writer of Ecclesiastes called this “vanity” or emptiness. We work so hard to gather up only what will be left one day for others. John wrote, “Do not love the world” and Paul said he counted his material wealth as dung. The important things in life aren’t those we can hold in our hands but the products of the heart are the possessions that can last eternally.