It might have seemed like a waste for me to be sitting at the sales table during our local community’s First-Saturday-of-the-month Winter Market on Saturday morning. After all, it only takes one to make a sale, and The Starflower is Keith’s book, not mine. I could have been getting a whole lot of chores done at home.
Was this a waste of time?
I hate wasting time. I routinely
fill overbook my schedule with checklist items and underestimate how long those items will take. It’s called “wishful thinking,” and I hate doing that, too. When I’m late, I make excuses, knowing I’ve wasted others’ time, which I hate to do.
As Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans 7:15—I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
I also hate being late, yet often I’m in danger of being just that. And I was late on Saturday morning, because the dogs hadn’t come back from their early morning run by the time we had to leave to set up. So, after helping Keith carry the folding table, chairs, book box and display items into the Community Center, I drove back—only ten minutes—to find the dogs waiting to come inside. I fed them and returned to sit with Keith for the next three hours.
Was that a waste of time?
We all waste something.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without,” my Depression-Era father preached. We didn’t do without much because he picked up all kinds of stuff discarded along the way—screws, bolts, bits of rope, even an old fire hose and the broken-off arm of a replaced parking lot gate. He didn’t understand why anyone needed more than one pair of shoes, a few white shirts and a couple pair of pants, one to wear while the other was in the laundry.
Mother taught my father about dressing for occasions and variety in clothing. But the Depression marked her, too, especially regarding waste.
“Everyone wastes something,” said my mother, also a frugal New Englander, “food, clothing, something.” Clothes sit in closets year after year, she told us, stuff in attics, old suitcases, furniture, baby things, which someone could use, or the little nub at the end of grating fresh Parmesan, perfectly good cheese that Mother’s friend always threw away. “All you have to do is watch,” Mother said.
But it’s easier to see what others waste than to see it in yourself. We had closets and an attic full of stuff, too.
During my busy work-kids’ years, I rarely thought deeply about waste, until recently.
One person’s waste is another’s beautiful thing.
Remember this story about Jesus, in Mark 14?
3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.
And so, as I sat next to Keith for three hours on Saturday morning, I thought to myself, “The chores will always be there, but Keith and I will not always have one another.”
And being together is a beautiful thing.
Linkup with Five Minute Friday: https://fiveminutefriday.com/2024/02/01/fmf-writing-prompt-link-up-waste/