A Pack-rat’s Epiphany by Marcia Lee Laycock

Marcia Lee Laycock won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006 for her novel, One Smooth Stone. Her devotionals have been widely published and go out to thousands via the internet.

Moving day was fast approaching and it was time to de-clutter and organize my office before boxing it all up. I am an unrepentant pack-rat but I was amazed at what I had accumulated. I had a lot of old files to sort through, piles of old copies of old articles, some that had been published, some not. I had a box of writers’ magazines, another of magazines in which friends had been published and one of miscellaneous clippings. There were copies of my own work and editing projects I’d done for others. On and on and on. And then I opened my closet!

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.