Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Collections Reveal Values

Collecting has been defined as "seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloging, displaying, storing, and maintaining a group of similar items". To put a more negative spin on the hunting-and-gathering, you could use the words: amassing, storing, and hoarding.

However, I prefer to think of collecting as an educational hobby. But, what I learn may be less about the collection and more about my values.

Collections vary from the exotic--gold coins, thoroughbred horses, and vintage cars--

to the ordinary--sand, match book covers, or beer cans.

In our home, collections often have family sentiment. The shelves of our library holds not only books, but a collection of hand-carved birds made by my husband's father.

Other collections have grown because of our interests. For example, we have a number of wood boxes full of antique medical tools. Many of these were given to my husband because of his profession.

Sometimes collections just find you, serendipitously. You buy something; then find another and another.  Before you know it, you have a collection.

My groupings of brass candlesticks emerged this way. First, I bought a pair to match the brass dining room chandelier. Next, I found a larger pair. Then, because groups of three are more pleasing than two, I added another set.

From then on, it seemed like every antique store I browsed in had brass candlesticks. Because they are not too expensive, pack easily, and are virtually indestructible, they became my go-to purchase.

Soon people began giving them to me. 

Further, because I like to use similar metals in a room, I began to collect other brass items.  A brass watering can and a brass pitcher found their way home with me from a trip to England.

Then I discovered that footed, English wine-coolers make perfect plant holders. I bought a large one.
One day, I met the cooler's younger brother. They needed to be under the same roof again. So, I bought the second one.

Later, their taller cousin asked to come home with me.
Well, you get the idea. 

Hmm...this collecting thing may be getting out of control. Such pondering, leads me to ask myself, "What values do my collections reflect?"

We have multiple translations of the Bible on our shelves, a worthy collection. However, other groupings, reveal not such noble values; case-in-point, my closet holds multiple pairs of shoes. (Oops, maybe this collection has crossed the line into amassing, storing, and hoarding.)

Actually, not all collecting is bad. In fact, the Bible recommends it. "Add to your faith, goodness, and to goodness knowledge, and to knowledge self-control, and to self-control perseverance; and to perseverance godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, love" (2 Peter 1: 5-8).

"Lord, help me to collect virtue--not stuff." 


  1. I just read that chapter of 2 Peter last night. How appropriate.

    I collect old books--like my mom and dad--and teacups/pots.

  2. My favorite collection here were the birds. My brother graduated from PSU with a Fine Arts degree. He does sculpture and would enjoy the whimsy and details in these fun birds.

    The Biblical application was very good.
    I love the Fruits of the Spirit as a goal to collect and apply in our lives.

    Becky K.

  3. I collect all too many things - matchbooks, postcards, old books, and sand to mention a few. We recently moved and my mother died about the same time, so with many things from her home entering the picture I am still in the process of figuring out how to display things. One I have been struggling with is my sand collection. I use small jars about 2 in high with a white lid. Some jars are full and some just a little as family and friends are always bringing me sand from their trips. In our old home they sat on a shelf - just not liking that idea right now. I'd love any ideas you might have. Love your home - especially the basement makeover. Thanks