I stared at a box on the top shelf. I knew what it held and I winced when I saw it, glancing furtively over my shoulder to make sure my husband wasn’t about as I lifted it down. It contained an old green folder holding a manuscript hand-written on yellow newsprint. I wrote it during a long cold winter in a cabin in the Yukon many years ago. I should have thrown it away at least three moves previous to this one, but I just couldn’t do it. It had ‘sentimental value,’ after all. It was the first book-length manuscript I had finished.
I carefully lifted the green cover. A musty smell wafted around me and I remembered the long-ago day when I had first packed it up. That cabin had had a mouse problem for a while, until I got a cat that was good at catching them. Apparently they liked yellow newsprint. The edges of the folder were gnawed. Part of the manuscript itself had a hole in it. When I lifted the sheets, some of it crumbled in my hand. But I had kept it, like a treasure, stored on the top shelf of that closet.
I glanced at the garbage pail, already almost full. I should toss it. I knew I should. But I’d spent months working on this story. I knew I’d never take the time to type it all out and work on it. I knew I would never send it to a publisher. I just wasn’t good enough. I glanced at the garbage can again. Still I hesitated.
Then I laughed at myself. Why did I value this rodent-chewed, smelly pile of paper so highly that I wanted to treat it like a priceless treasure? I obviously valued my scrawled words much too highly. I stood over the trash barrel and let the box, folder and manuscript tumble in.
Then a scripture came to mind – something about treasures and moths making holes in things. I found my Bible and looked it up. “… but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust (or rodents) do not destroy… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 parenthesis mine).
I went back to the garbage can, retrieved the box and opened the folder again. I lifted out a portion of the paper where a hungry little mouse had eaten through it. I found an old frame, placed the sheet between two pieces of glass and propped it up on the ledge by my computer. That I would pack, as a reminder to find more enduring treasures for my heart.
The rest went back into the trash can.