I love old things. I find a happy spot when I come in contact with old barn wood, worn-down crates, dilapidated dressers, painted-encrusted wood doors, discarded windows, and rusted items that remind me of the “good-ole-days.” A day wandering around flea markets of junk always brings a smile to my face.
Years ago, my roommate’s mother and aunt came for a visit. I had replaced the mirror in my bathroom with an old medicine cabinet I found at a local flea market. Its worn-down edges showed layers of paint and the inside of the door still had a faded instruction sheet for how to clean wounds, cuts, and bites. The piece made me want to know its story – where it had been and what it had witnessed. I could have scraped off the old paint and refinished it, but I liked its character and decided to simply give it a good cleaning.
The two women whispered to each other asking why in the world I would put such an old relic in my house, stating that they “had old things all their life” and they were “ready for something new.” I just smiled. Looking at them in their elder years, I was glad I enjoyed old things so much; they brought me as much joy as that creaky medicine cabinet. I was content to have them around.
Repurposed items have become quite popular in recent years. Old barn wood has been made into centerpiece tables for family dining rooms, crusty windows are transformed into coffee tables, and lonesome headboards have become benches for friends and fellowship. Many stores now manufacture new products to look old simply because it’s currently fashionable. Not only are these items popular, many are also expensive. If you can store your junk long enough – without fear of becoming the neighborhood hoarder that everyone gossips about – your rusty relics can turn you a pretty profit. Just walk into your local antique store and you’ll find yourself regretting telling your mother or grandmother to throw out the tarnished mirrors, glass door knobs, creaky wooden ladders, squeaky trunks, rusty wash tubs, and other items you were sure would never be used again.
Just because we age, doesn’t mean we lose purpose. It may be that our purpose simply changes, and we find ourselves doing something new in the same old body. Like my old bathroom cabinet, we have stories that should be told. We have things we can teach. We have history that needs to be passed down.
Each generation must look to the elderly among us and make room in our lives and ministries for them, no matter their age. We have to see their value. We have to be willing to listen. We must allow them to have purpose instead of pushing them to back corners to be forgotten. Look around you. There are treasures just waiting for someone to dust them off, put them on display, and put them to use.
Written by: Colleen Clabaugh