It has occupied the same space on our office desk for over 20 years now.
Twenty years of knowing about its existence. Twenty years of noticing and using it just about every single day. Twenty years of acknowledging its presence but not realizing its importance.
Until just the other day.
Over 20 years ago, our family of five was unsettled. We had just moved from one side of our country to another – from the Pacific Northwest to our home state of Pennsylvania. Our household goods were in storage, we hadn’t found a home to call our own yet, my mother was in the throes of cancer treatments so we were temporarily living with my parents, and Papa diligently was searching for employment.
In the middle of it all, Papa’s mother, my dear mother-in-law, developed more life-threatening health issues and moved from her assisted living facility into a nursing home. Because she lived several hundred miles away from us, my husband’s uncle, a beloved brother of his mother’s who lived near her, cleared out her belongings and stored them for her in his garage.
Shortly afterwards, my mother-in-law passed away. After her memorial service, we sorted through the items, determining what could be given away and what items her sons wanted to take.
Papa’s mother had already downsized significantly from her apartment, where she moved following my father-in-law’s death, and again purged her belongings when she secured a room in the assisted living facility. So we accomplished the task of going through what was left in an afternoon.
Items we kept and brought home with us were not of great value, simply sentimental. One of those was a glass, rectangular-shaped paperweight with a sepia-toned picture pasted on the back of mothers, children, and a couple of cherubs.
It was a little odd but as long as Papa could remember, that paperweight sat on his mother’s secretary desk. Obviously old, we opted to keep it along with another circular glass paperweight sporting our nation’s Capitol building in Washington, DC.
So for the last 20+ years, both have occupied different spots on our home office desk where our desktop computer is located. Both Papa and I have shuffled hundreds of pieces of papers around this desk. We’ve written notes and stuck them under that rectangular paperweight with the odd picture umpteen thousand times in the last 20 years.
But just the other day, something happened that stunned me and then caused me to additionally ponder. As usual when a visual presents itself to me, my mind searches for some kind of meaning from it.
The morning sun streamed through our office windows that day when I opened the blinds. As I often do in the early mornings, I imbibed in a cup of hot tea while logging onto the desktop computer, checking email, perusing social media, reading my fellow bloggers’ words, and attempting to conjure up my own blog posts for the week.
After so many dreary, overcast days, I welcomed the sunlight pouring in but its intensity almost blinded me while sitting at the desk. I didn’t want to close the blinds because well…sunshine makes me happy. So I shifted my chair over a tad in order to shield my eyes from the bright sunlight and that’s when I noticed it.
A brilliant ray of sunshine shone through that odd, old, glass paperweight. And as it did so, I noticed something I had never before seen – there was some kind of etching on the short end of the rectangular glass.
What??? I’d never seen that before! I picked up the paperweight and when I held it just so, I could see the etching included three upper case initials. Puzzled, I began to wonder whose initials they were because they did not match either my mother-in-law or my father-in-law’s names.
I called to my husband and asked him to come take a look. He too had no idea whose initials they could possibly be. All along we thought the paperweight had belonged to his mother or perhaps his dad, but what explained the different initials?
Turning the paperweight over in the sunlight, I then noticed more etching in the glass on the other short end of the rectangle shape. There a date was etched – 1900 – plain as day or plain as could be seen when direct light hit it.
1900? So this paperweight had to be at least 120 years old. Wow. Again the wheels started spinning in my mind. 1900 – my father-in-law was then two years old (yes, you read that correctly; he was born in 1898).
My father-in-law was the oldest child in his family so he was, in 1900, the only child. The photo in the glass paperweight depicted mothers with children….mothers….and that’s when the proverbial light bulb illuminated in my brain!
The initials! I hurriedly looked up information on Papa’s family. There it was – the initials matched Papa’s grandmother’s name. My father-in-law’s mother. The grandma my husband never knew because she died when he was very young. Perhaps this paperweight was given to her on Mother’s Day in 1900.
We owned a sentimental piece of family history and didn’t even know it until now. A bit of a revelation!
And then my mind took a detour. That paperweight sat in the dark, so to speak, for over 20 years before its real ownership was revealed to us, until just the right angle of light presented it for my eyes to see.
That reminded me of God’s Word where much is written about light. Until I became a believer in Christ, I once was in darkness but as I came to know my personal Savior, I was brought out of that darkness into light, “His marvelous light” as 1 Peter 2:9 tells me.
I recalled that Jesus said, “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in” as written in John 8:12 of The Message.
He also proclaimed in John 9:39, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”
And then Jesus revealed Truth when he exclaimed, “Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.” (John 12:44-46 The Message)
Pondering those words also reminded me that truth is revealed in light. We go about in the dark, perhaps being fed lies after lies and believing them, and then bam! The light exposes the truth! The truth comes to light. What’s hidden in darkness and subterfuge becomes known and displayed in the light.
What was concealed is now revealed. What was covered is laid bare. What was hidden is now shown. I’ve always cautioned my own children that what you do in secret will be revealed in the light of day. That is truth.
It took sunlight reflecting through a 120-year-old glass paperweight to allow my eyes to see and my mind to be reminded of truth. A little revelation thanks to God and thanks to my husband’s grandmother.
“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!” ~ Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 6:22-23 of The Message