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9.27.2010

...AND THIS LITTLE RED SUITCASE - and that's all I need!

My dad was the banker in the small town I grew up in.  Sometimes after school, I would walk from school to the bank.  Once inside the bank, there were two entrances to my dad's office; one was where customers entered and the other was a side hall entrance.  That back entrance to my dad's office allowed me to stand in the hall and have my dad see me without his customer's ever laying eyes on me.  So, typically I would go down the back hallway to my dad's office stopping on the way in the kitchen to eat sugar cubes (we didn't have those at home) and then standing where my dad could see me out of the corner of his eye.  He would normally have someone in his office, so with his hand behind the desk low he would wave at me.  Off I would go across the street to the Dime Store.  Oh the Dime Store in 1972 was a magical place for a kid, especially in a small rural community like ours.  There were treasures there to be lusted over and touched, pennies to be slid across the counter for penny candy, mental notes to be made of things you would like for your birthday or Christmas.  It was a cornucopia of delights, wares, trinkets and treats.  Once again that day I marched across the street to the magical land of the Dime Store for one reason and one reason only.  Every day that my parents would allow me to walk uptown after school to ride home with my dad, I would go look at it.  Day after day.  Week after week I would stand and stare at it.  Sometimes I would get so bold as to ask if they could get it down off the high shelf for me to touch and really examine.  There it was - this magnificent small red suitcase.  I wanted it in the worst way.  Really, the things I could do with it - I mean travel the world, go to my grandma's in style or be the envy of a slumber party.  When you opened it up it housed a mirror inside the lid.  There was a compartmentalized tray that was on top.  If you removed the tray beneath it was lined with this red silky material with a small pocket sewn into the lining.  It had a smooth red handle contrasting the red linen textured upholstery.  Beautiful and functional, and I wanted it.  There was nothing else in all the world that I wanted, but that suitcase.  It was a consuming thought - I was coveting that suitcase.  In the months leading up to my birthday I carefully dropped as many hints as I could - well, the hints were just basically saying what I wanted and where it could be found a million times to both my mother and my father.  My desire for the suitcase became so great that I even prayed, "God, if I can just get that beautiful little red suitcase I will never ask for anything else again.  I will be totally satisfied."  Now at 8 years old you have no concept of the great desires that lie unknown and unchartered in front of you.  You just can't know that fully. My world was small at 8 so not wanting anything else was relative to my vision of what was available.  As I stood in the Dime Store I prayed that prayer.  When I laid in my bed at night it was what I talked to God about - wanting that suitcase and my desire would be totally fulfilled.  Well, my birthday finally arrived.  Grandparents came, my favorite meal was made served, cake was eaten and the grand finale - presents were opened!  I cannot remember another thing I got that year for my birthday because everything else paled in comparison.  The last gift given was from my parents.  It was just what I longed for - the little red suitcase!!  It was mine.  I couldn't believe it.  The feelings rushed over me of gratitude - I was so full up of this grand possession I would never need another thing.   Ever.  Ever was not very long.  I think it wasn't long before I wanted something else that I knew would bring fulfillment or be the end all of belongings.  Then I turned 9:)  Somehow one day I grew up with a whole new set of things that I thought I needed for fulfillment.  A bit of destination disease - when I get this or arrive here or have this money or have this job, then I will have contentment and fulfillment.  I will be filled up.  I don't have that little red suitcase anymore.  Actually I don't even know what happened to it.  I'm sure it either broke, was sold at a garage sale or sits untouched still in my parent's attic.  I do know that one day I realized that the "little red suitcase" over the years has taken other forms, but the premise remains the same - how to be content with ourselves and walk away from traps of possessions, money, success and power.  The old saying, "a contented cow produces much milk" is so true.  I want to find in God contentment and delight which amazingly enough satisfies my soul much deeper, richer and more lasting than that little red suitcase ever could.   

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