Re-emptying My Pockets


A Pockets Sort of Day

It had been a dreary autumn day. The rain had fallen continually and its dampness had permeated not only my body but also my soul. As we sat down to eat supper that evening, the kids seemed oblivious to my mood as they talked about their day and the fun times at school. They didn’t care that homework wasn’t done, that leaf piles had become mountains in the yard, and that laundry was still unfolded. I was out of sorts because – well, I’m not really sure why. I just know that I’d spent part of the day moping because I wished some things in life were different. I’d thought if only too many times that day.

Dave looked around the table at our half-dozen squirming kids. I’m sure he sensed my mood (he usually does.) Then his eyes twinkled as he said to me, “We need to treasure these times. It won’t be long until they’ll be gone.”

I knew he was right. In a few years, they’d be heading out. I could dread the future years, or I could clasp what I had today.

So I did. That evening, I emptied the pockets of my skirt. I’d been dusting and tidying the house and accumulated my wealth as I filled my pockets with semblances of my world.  Only thing is, I hadn’t seen it as wealth then. I saw it as just another task I needed to do because my kids were still just kids.

I still remember that feeling from that long-ago evening. I also remember how, as I emptied item after item in my pockets and looked outward instead of in, the despondency and gloom lifted.

Instead of looking at my losses, I chose to look at the blessings I had. I still try to do that.

Some days I have to make a conscious choice to count my blessings instead of my losses. Every time I do, I come out ahead. Every single time, I find that I am living in goodness from God.

Are you struggling today with life’s situations? Perhaps this poem I wrote that dreary evening will help you like it did me.

Pocket Treasures

One by one I pull out the items I’ve collected through the day.

If these pockets of mine could speak, they’d sure have a lot to say.

I’ve found a little girl’s comb, a safety pin, and the picture someone drew, making me grin.

There’s a rubber band, a paper airplane, and the grocery receipt still wet from the rain.

I’ve got a broken pencil, a spool of thread, and the needle I used to sew that button on in red.

There’s a Band-Aid wrapper, a crayon that’s blue, a couple of Legos, and a lace from a shoe.

I’ve got some unused tissues, a cap for a pen, and a book of matches that belongs in the den.

There are a half-dozen pennies, a sticker that’s “cool,”

And a couple of markers from the project due for school.

Throughout the house as I’ve been cleaning and dusting,

I’ve picked up this stuff — sometimes smiling, sometimes fussing.

I look at my treasures lying there on the chair,

And I know I’m far richer than a body can tell.

For the treasures that I’ve stashed there before I’ve gone on my way,

Are reminders to me that life has been good today.

Sometimes days are crazy and time slips by in a whirl,

And looking back, it truly seems that life is just a big blur.

Yet emptying my pockets, I must confess,

Is a guarantee that I’ll see how much I am blessed.

That’s because I have another set of pockets.  These I treasure even more.

They’re filled with intangible memories that no one can take from me, for sure!

There’s the gentle memory of brown eyes nestled close to me,

And a little hand patting my back when no one else can see.

I recall those blue eyes sparkling when the sight word test says “Great!”

And I smile because, for once, a kid got up early instead of late.

I treasure hearing laughter rippling in the afternoon sun,

And watching big brother helping sister’s chores in getting done.

There’s the sense of satisfaction when my kids don’t know I’ve seen,

And they choose to say, “I’m sorry,” before I need to intervene.

I clasp the memory of the secret whispered gently in my ear,

“I love you so much, Mama!” where no one else can hear.

I hold the quiet, gentle knowledge that commitment will be strong;

Though marriage sometimes isn’t easy, I know I’ll always belong.

And there’s the warmth and tender feeling lingering through me all day long,

From the hug and kiss he gave me before he put his work clothes on.

There’s the knowledge and experience that accumulates with years

Of a God who really loves me and can handle all my fears.

There’s delight in candles burning, the fragrance of the new-mown lawn,

Leaves a-turning, breezes blowing, and the crimson light at dawn.

When the day is drizzly gloomy, when the night seems frigid cold,

I find purpose in my pockets and the treasures that I hold.

When I’m tempted to look around me, to fret and to complain,

I find meaning in recalling, not what I’ve lost, but all that I have gained.

I clutch the promise of tomorrow: treasures that can’t be bought or sold.

I just reach into my pockets and grasp my riches, worth more than gold.

Have you emptied your pockets today?!



This article was first published in October 1999 and later printed in the book Southside Glimmerswhich is available here.


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