Last month we sold our home of 35 years. That has the peculiar trauma of getting rid of hundreds of books – okay, the ones I have not read for years and will never read again – and three decades of clothes pushed to the back of the wardrobe. But it was sort of liberating, once we determined to get rid of “stuff”. It also fits with the Christian story of leaving other “stuff” behind – and of not being attached to things.
We probably had four skips worth of stuff from our regular-sized house and garden. That’s got to say something about owning too much stuff.
But what came next was more challenging.
The Auction. And it feels kind of different when it is the property you are selling, not one you are buying.
I have discovered the arcane rituals of a world I had never encountered before. When someone comes along and creates an imaginary family in your house … because we’d never have covered each bed with a white doona. Never had a glass table. Or so many mirrors.
And then there’s fixing the things I had never got around to: the light fitting that had fused, the cupboard doors that would swing open (not sure I totally fixed them), the daggy fly screens.
Not to mention the great kitchen disaster of 2020. Don’t ask.
And then gardening to show off the size of the property, whereas before we had liked our jungle.
And going through all of this makes me think how weird the world of church must be to those who have never encountered it before.
I have a real respect for all those people who showed skill in guiding us through the sale. I mean, our real estate agent, who I will call Peter (because that’s his name), worked with us gently for three years.
And hopefully that sort of careful welcome and encouragement is what happens with church too. In whatever form your church gathering is happening in, at the moment.
But back to the auction. I found it scary. Of course we had done the wrong thing, selling before we bought, and buying just before the pandemic, and selling once everyone could spell epidemiologist.
We were inside the front room, as the auctioneer, James, began. The crowd was in the street milling around. There was a silence that seemed to go on for millennia, as James cajoled the first bid. It started slowly. I got so nervous that I walked out to the back, and watched a butterfly dart around the pergola.
I came back as bidding edged towards our reserve, and, yes, kept going.
It’s hard in this situation to want the best for everyone. That’s what a Christian should do, right? To love the others – the bidders, just as one loves oneself. To want a fair price.
I was calm and prayerful in the days before. Well, almost.
But on auction day it was hard, to love all. To wish good on everyone. How does God do it?