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When my parents passed away I, and some family and friends, worked about 12-hours each day cleaning my Mom & Dad’s rented house, going through each and every paper, photo and stored box, setting up card tables and setting out most of our family’s memories (in the form of furniture, dishes, paintings, knick-knacks, books, records, Christmas decorations…etc.) on tables and every flat surface of the house – to sell to friends and strangers at an Estate Sale happening this weekend.  It has been a process not unique to me but shared by many.  Those of us who have dealt with it find it emotionally and physically draining, sad, challenging to our creativity and a little fun…all at the same time. 

Photos.  In this new world of digital photos stored in a “a cloud”, it is overwhelming to go through the thousands of “hard-copy” photos kept for generations and decide, ”What should I keep?  Which ones DON’T I have?  What will mean something to MY children?” “They’re only photos…is it worth the trouble and money to keep them?”

My “standard”, therefore, was:

  1. If the photo doesn’t have a PERSON in it I’m not keeping it. (Sorry, Mom, all those photos from the thousands upon thousands of road trips to historic markers around the country are now “dust in the wind”)
  2. If I already have a copy, the photo is toast.
  3. If I don’t know who the people are and Mom didn’t write their names on the back, they’re gone.
  4. If I know who the people in the photos are, but don’t care…they’re trashed.
  5. If they are embarrassing photos of me, they are treated as if they never existed. (Editing history is a wonderful thing.)

Of course, according to Ann (the kind, caring and well-trained woman from Mom & Dad’s church who is graciously taking the helm of this Estate Sale) “almost everything is worth something to someone”.  So I found myself in the strange, ironic and “sermon-illustrative” position of removing photos from frames and preserving the frames for sale, eliminating the photos or keeping (according to the above-mentioned criteria) – BECAUSE, As important as our images are…they are, many times, worth nothing to anyone but us.  The frames that surround us can be traded, bought and sold.

Yesterday, as I ran across some of these photos, I thought about the fact that I couldn’t sell the photos that meant so much to me; that carried thoughts and deep memories and in some cases all I have left of a life that lived and walked next to me.  But the frames, THEY were worth something to someone else, and would frame other photos and other memories – people would purchase those.

Lessons from the frames:

  1. A person who would choose “your photo” over your FRAME is a friend worth your investment…because
  2. …for many people, it is not your essence (photo) they are attracted to, it is your FRAME: your trappings, your accumulations, your “setting”…without your FRAME, some people may not even recognize your photo…those are people you can do without.
  3. The FRAME is a paradigm through which people see “our photos”; the REAL us.  Different people/paradigms, different frames. Though I am the same person, I am not seen the same way by all the people that know me – and none of THEM know me completely – only my Heavenly Father knows me completely, “trans-frame”.  And as much as we strive to know our Heavenly Father, we only know Him through our own frames, carved, created and defined by our limited life experience…others have a different perspective according to the frames THEY’VE made…even though God is the same God then, now, and forever.

It is an arrogant and misinformed assumption to believe that someone else would see God through the SAME “FRAME” as we would see Him.  It is also arrogant and misinformed to believe that person is wrong if they don’t see God the same way we do…when it could be that God is the same, but their “frame of reference” is different.”

It is our job to learn from others, seek God in all places, look to the Sacred Scripture for reference, and trust The Spirit to “lead us into all Truth.”

In the end, I thank my Heavenly Father that I grew up in a place where I had wonderful parents, friends and family to surround and teach me; people who helped create my “FRAME”.  Life moves forward, one FRAME is exchanged for another and that is a good thing.  One day ALL FRAMES will be removed, and only our image/essence and God’s image/essence will live; paradigms will shift once and for all, pretense will end and Truth will be the Word of the day.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I CORINTHIANS 13:12-13