I stopped by an estate sale on my way home from work. A huge barn-like building housed rows of shelving with items of all sorts, shapes, sizes, and ages. Apparently the big items had already been claimed by family members or sold to interested buyers. What filled the shelves were the leftovers I assume. Glassware, Christmas decorations, costume jewelry, kitchen utensils, even cans of cleaning products and a bottle of dog shampoo.
I cruised the isles looking for a treasure when my eyes fell on a white sheet and two pillowcases being sold as a set. Crisply ironed, the set had lace attached that was exquisite, about 2 and a half inches wide along the edges. It looked practically new yet it’s design and craftsmanship indicated it was not new but old.
And I wondered about the now deceased owner. What was she waiting for? Who would have been a guest worthy of such quality and beauty? And why didn’t she enjoy them on her own bed?
Just when that thought entered and left my mind, I remembered an equally beautiful set of pillowcases with intricate lace tucked safely into one of my drawers. They have not been put on pillows in a very long time.
And I said it out loud to myself, “What am I waiting for?”
I guess many of us have the fine china we purchased years ago and only use for special occasions. But really, how long ago was the occasion special enough to pull it out? Paper plates are so much easier to dispose of. Or the every day dishes will easily go into the dishwasher.
A couple of years ago on Christmas Eve, I took my wedding china from the hutch that had belonged to my mother. I had not used the china in decades. But that year I set the dinner table with their creamy elegance. I arranged the silver plated cutlery beside plates and put the cloth napkins in pretty napkin rings. The ruby crown glasses were taken from a protected shelf and set at their proper place above the knives.
And that Christmas Eve Sweet William and I celebrated a special occasion with our son, daughter-in-love, three precious grandchildren, my dad and step-mother.
When the evening was over, I hand washed the platinum edged china, the glassware and the forks, knives and spoons. It took time, but it was worth the effort. I was able to share my best with the ones I love the most.
Two Christmases have passed since then, two years without our family gathered around the big table at the holiday season. The one and only son does not live in the house next door any longer. My precious old dad went to be with the Lord this year.
The family table is not the same anymore.
I stand there in the barn at the estate sale and wonder about saving things for later, about waiting for a special occasion. When I have the time. When life is not so busy. When the house is clean. When that project is complete. When we have more money. When the weather changes. When . . . ___________. Fill in the blanks.
Is there a phone call I need to make? A letter I should write? Do I need to have lunch with a friend? Should I extend the invitation?
Is there a word I need to speak, an offering of encouragement and a “you can do this” a person longs to hear? Is someone waiting for an “I love you” from me? Or “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you.” How about those who need my witness and my question, “Do you know my Savior?”
What is the special occasion I’m waiting for when the time is right? When will the time be right?
Time is short and life is uncertain. I have this day to live but not the promise of tomorrow. I recall the admonishment to make the most of every opportunity. Am I?
I left the sale not wanting to wait for special occasions to enjoy the bounty of God’s gifts nor to neglect to share them with others.
I was holding the set of sheets in my hands as I walked to my car.
What are you waiting for?