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    by Susan McGrath

"The Trunk"
Date Posted: July 24, 2004

The camel-back trunk stood in my great-aunt's basement for decades, dull brown and musty, and for the most part, forgotten.

Visiting as a child I was too busy gathering fish food to take to the pond or searching out my favorite candy to notice it. Years later, after I had grown to appreciate such things, I was blessed to become its caretaker.

When I opened it for the first time I was pleasantly surprised to see the original paper lining, portraying a young woman from some time past playing an instrument. Though some of it was cracked and peeling, fragile to the touch, it was still lovely.

A layer of rust covered the lock and hinges, but it only added to the charm and made me feel I was on the verge of an important discovery! That discovery wasn't to be among the contents of the trunk - there were none. But I meticulously cleaned the dust and what rust I could from the outside.

Later as I filled the trunk with 4-H ribbons, camp pictures and ticket stubs from every concert and movie I ever attended, I thought of my own hope chest: a stylish piece of oak with cedar lining. But it seemed ordinary, definitely lacking the character and romance of this century-old bridal box.

When I think of how significant this trunk must have been to the woman who owned it - a rite of passage toward womanhood, a storehouse for the necessities and niceties of her future household - images of her life take shape in my mind.

I have been told very little about this woman, my great-grandfather's first wife. She died young after giving birth to her first child, a son. I feel sad to think that she never knew him and he never knew her. But she would have acquired this trunk in her years of innocence.

I envision her as a young lady, giggling with her friends or perhaps a sister, over the handsome gentleman she would someday marry, dancing and twirling without a worry or care!

What were her dreams as she filled this trunk with items she had so lovingly fashioned? Cotton patchwork and silk embroidered quilts, gingham curtains, bed and kitchen linens carefully stitched and placed within to cushion dishes and oil lamps. How excited she must have been to see it carried into her own home. Did she ever imagine her time would be so short? Like the now-crumbling trunk lining, her grasp on life was fragile.

Thinking of this woman I never knew, I sometimes get teary-eyed. But I am thankful to be here to watch my sons grow. And I am grateful for what she left for me to discover: The need to embrace what I have and hold on; never to pack my dreams away for some future that may not come.

So her trunk I have packed full of memories - remnants of the past I cherish - while I live today.

Sometimes God speaks to us through things or people we would never expect. our plans and dreams may not be what God has in mind for us. As you reflect this week read 55:8,9.

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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