In a bid to give Mark’s aching typing hand a break from all these weekly missives (not to mention his brain… I can actually see smoke coming out of his ears from where I sit here in the office), I offered to write this week’s Touching Base.
Some of you know that in the past little while, I have returned to a childhood hobby of mine, stamp collecting. It simply fascinates me to learn about what events, things and people different countries honour with a stamp (and, quite frankly, just how bad the English can be on North Korean stamps. But I digress.)
Now, I don’t just take my stamps and put them in a stock album. No… I have an album called the World Phoenix Album, about 600 pages, which has black and white illustrations for some of the stamps. You match up the illustration with the stamp you have (but only some of them… the only album in the world that illustrates most stamps is 60 VOLUMES in size and costs $17,000! Somehow I don’t think my husband would go for that…!).
In other words, what I’ve got is a glorified sticker book for grown-ups.
And most of you who know me also know I don’t do things by half either… to get myself “going” again, I bought a bag of 5000 worldwide stamps, as well as an electronic version of the 6-volume Scott Stamp Catalogue (about 8400 pages, full colour - thank goodness for auctions on E-Bay!) and stamp inventorying software called EZStamp. Oh, and if my husband asks, you know nothing :)
So all that to say that I have spent many hours recently just sitting and cataloguing those 5000 stamps. I won’t bore you with the details, but getting a stamp from the bag into my album is not as simple as “take it out and stick it in”. It’s actually a 4- or 5-step process, and not unlike Sherlock Holmes trying to crack a case. That’s why I enjoy it so much, by the way. Oh, and with 5000 stamps to catalogue, it’s also why I’m going to be doing it for the rest of my life.
My aim was to start out with a general worldwide collection, but I’m slowly but surely going to specialize the collection into stamps of Canada, religious stamps, soccer stamps and, believe it or not, stamps about stamps (my husband’s reaction to that one was “they have stamps about stamps? I have now seen it all.”)
May I be honest thought? As much as I’ve enjoyed myself, as the time has passed, I have increasingly been…
“Hey Carmen, how about you pursue Me
the way you pursue those stamps?”
Boy, there’s a question for the ages, and for all of us.
I’ve realized how easy it is for me to go off on an obsession and in so doing, give God, (you know…the Almighty Creator of the universe? My only Saviour?) the short shrift. And that does no one any good, least of all me, because in the long term, it can be outright sinful. You see, when God said, “you shall have no other gods before me”, He wasn’t only talking about little statues, folks.
Am I suggesting that hobbies and activities are wrong? That somehow we need to be like cloistered nuns? Of course not! But loving God passionately and serving others significantly (have you heard that somewhere before?) means living a balanced life, and in that balance, God must come first.
So this week, duly chastened, I am going to work on that. May I encourage all of you to take a moment to do a quick life inventory as well? Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you -
-Has God been Number One in my life lately?
-If no, what (or who) has come to be in the way? Has it really been beyond my control, or am I just using it as an excuse?
-What can I do to give God, and the rest of my activities, their proper place?
Well, I have to go now. I need to go
PS. A lady walks into the post office and says “May I have 15 Christmas stamps please?”
The clerk replies, “Sure! What denomination?”
The lady sighs and says, “Oh… has it really come to this? Okay... 8 Catholic… 5 Protestant… 2 Jewish.”