Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Stuff of Happiness

By Jeanette Arnquist
Director, Ministry of Life, Dignity and Justice

Why did we choose the hottest weekend of the year for a yard sale?  It was 111º F and people kept coming all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  We had a lot of good stuff – our parents had died within eight months of each other and we were left with the daunting task of cleaning out the house. 

We had big stuff like the washing machine and dryer, and little stuff like coffee cups, books and humorous plaques.  And people wanted it.  Some of the people who came by were probably really in need of some of the things that they bought.  Others were just looking for a bargain.  They just wanted something that was selling at a fraction of its retail value.  They wanted more stuff.

The yard sale was just the latest event in the process of saying good-bye.  Our parents were wonderful people, faith filled, generous and hospitable, helpful in word and deed.  They are going to be missed and remembered for a long time, not just by their descendents, but by their whole community. 

In a society where people are judged by what they have, our parents would have been judged as moderately successful.  They had a mobile home and a car, all paid for and lots and lots of stuff.  Every closet and cupboard was full – really full!  But the stuff was not what made them happy.  What made them happy was the love they had for God, each other, their many family members and their friends. 

Let us hope that the people who shopped at the yard sale know that even though it might be fun to get a bargain, happiness doesn’t come from stuff.


  1. Jeannete, a very well written blog that honored your parents but also reflects your ability to be present in the moment and to find deeper meaning in the ordinary. Many blessings and graces for you as you continue the process of living without the daily, physical presence of your wonderful parents

  2. Wish I could have been there, mom! Love you!

  3. So well said!! Although much of the "stuff " they had was from the very people they helped & loved. We were doubly blessed by God to have had such wonderful parents


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