A piece of stretched elastic; a broken loom band; piece of old shoe lace; numerous feathers; a piece of wool; varying rocks; a gum nut; sticks; a maths counter; a metal spring; bones; a shell; a piece of pipe cleaner; several brochures; a 1 cent coin; a piece of tin foil; a piece of broken ceramic tile; a tree nut of some kind.
As you read through this list some of you will be nodding knowingly, familiar with what this list is. You are already thinking about yours; sitting in your treasure box at the bottom of your cupboard, or your mind has drifted to the box your child has hidden away.
You are either a treasure collector or you are not. And if one of your children is, you will certainly know it. The strange items you find in school uniform pockets, or those things you feel as you reach deep down into your own pockets, are a dead giveaway. You especially know it, if then that item is asked for at the end of a day, the next day or even a week later.
Most of us have at least one thing we collect. Whether we realise it or not! "An archtophilist collects teddy bears, a deltiologist collects postcards, a numismatist collects coins, a vecturist collects subway tokens and a clock collector is a horologist. Possibly Noah was the most famous collector of all. After all, he collected two of every living animal and housed them in one place" (http://nationalpsychologist.com/).
Some people collect for investment, some for enjoyment – just because it's fun, while others collect to preserve the past. For some people collecting is simply the quest, in some cases a life-long pursuit that is never complete. Others may collect for psychological security, filling a void in a sense of self. For some, the satisfaction comes from experimenting with arranging and classifying parts of this chaotic world, which can serve as a means of control to bring a comfort zone in one's life.
My middle son is an avid 'bits n pieces' collector. And I am not. I like holding onto letters and items bringing meaning from trips or from special people in my life...but never bits. I recall the times he has arrived home from school.
"Guess what mum? You'll never guess what I found at school today", he declares as he reaches into his jacket, huge smile across his face. He pulls out a piece of dirty broken shoe lace, and holds it up proudly.
"Oh wow!" I reply. "That looks very interesting".
"Yes, I found it on the oval. I wonder what happened to the shoe that it was on?" he queries. He clutches the treasure and runs to find his treasure box. I am always left perplexed and I rarely 'get' what he sees in these items!
This is a very regular occurrence in our home. But only one of our three boys does this. He has done this from a young age, so you can imagine his sizeable collection.
Some of the contents of the box is what most would call rubbish. Some items become his way of remembering people or places.
Last week he came out of bed with tears in his eyes carrying his treasure box. "I'm just missing our chickens", he says. "I miss Jenny and Aqua and Red Rooster and Shadow and...." he continues the list of chickens and as he does he reaches into his treasure box and holds up a feather from each one. He knows which feather was from which chicken and had collected one from each over the couple of years that we had chickens. All have long gone now, eaten by foxes.
What are his eyes seeing that most others miss? Why does he see a jewel on the ground that most of us tread on? It is beautiful and simple curiosity and one that I think our Creator God rejoices in. Jesus views us in this way. We are precious and he delights in us. Even when we feel trodden on and down cast, Jesus sees our strengths, our beauty, our hearts and sees hope.
He also wants us to view each person we come across in this same way. Like a treasured gem with a past, with a unique story, with possibilities and with love.
Just as my child carefully carries a piece of rubbish to his special box, Jesus treasures us with all our imperfections and loves us no matter what.
Ephesians Chapter 2, Verses 4 and 5 says, "but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved."
Laura Veloso is wife to John and the mother of 3 young boys. She is trained in child welfare and primary school teaching and has experience in overseas missions and youth leadership.
Laura Veloso's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/laura-veloso.html