With the combined weight of two generations and a collective deep breath, we shimmied the 10 X 14 rug into my minivan. It wedged snugly against the front dash, providing an awkwardly high armrest. Its position left me, the driver, with the ability to use only the tip of my pinkey at a precise angle to adjust the air flow and radio. I was ready to drive home from my visit to see friends and relatives with our family’s prized heirloom in tow: an oriental rug from my grandparent’s den. For several years, the rug was stored in my aunt’s garage before she and my grandmother graciously offered it to me…all I had to do was take it to the cleaners and Whoa! Old, new to me, ancestral foot trodden rug.
When I arrived at the rug shop, I relayed to the owner how much I loved this rug—mainly because it belonged to my grandmother whom I love dearly and with whom I share a very special relationship. The memories of time spent in my grandparents’ house made my heart swell with fondness. I also reiterated that the rug had been in a non-climate-controlled garage for a few years, and that I was hoping they could restore it to its past glory.
As we rolled it out in the parking lot, let’s just say I saw something that gave the verse “where moth and rust destroy” a whole new meaning. Before our very eyes, live moths scooched their way around the edge of the rug, eating away at the colorful wool, their cocoons decorating the outer rim of the perimeter. I made a sound somewhere between a laugh and a shriek. “I’ve seen a lot of things, but I have to say, I’ve never seen this!” exclaimed the shop owner. I gasped in horror as I thought of being “that customer” whose story could comfort future customers in embarrassing rug situations: “Oh don’t worry sweetie, it’s not near as bad as the live moth lady!” (Gulp).
I decided to break the news to my aunt via voicemail. “I’m calling to let you know that, uh, the rug, well when we unrolled it, there were some moths in there…actually, live ones eating the wool in real time; and well, uh, I’m fine and they think they can repair it and everything, but uh, you may want to move anything else made of wool from your garage…just letting you know!”
Moments later, my aunt called back. She was already cracking up when I answered the phone. “LIVE MOTHS!!!! I AM DYING!! ARE YOU SO GROSSED OUT? I DON’T KNOW WHETHER TO LAUGH OR CRY! This is SO GROSS! Is the rug going to be ok? Are you ok? Do you still want it?” After a good laugh and side-splitting text chains with YouTube videos starring moths feasting on wool, we decided she would break the news to my grandmother.
Several minutes later, my aunt called back. “Meg, you are not going to believe it! Guess what?” she said howling, “That is not the rug! It’s the one from the consignment store where mom and dad used to shop after breakfast on Saturdays!” “So, what you’re telling me is that the family heirloom from the garage is actually a rug they bought for you at a secondhand store for your house?” I asked. “YES!” and that’s when I doubled over because my stomach hurt from laughing so hard.
So, the not-family-heirloom-someone else’s family feet-trampled, moth-snacked rug now lives at my house. And you know what? I’m such a fan. Because all the rug rigmarole paints a freakishly accurate picture of my own heart—of what I actually treasure, of what I value.
I often spin my wheels over what doesn’t last. I take what I think is the true prize and I spend time, money, effort, and emotion investing in it because surely this will bring meaning and contentment to my life. And then I realize, like that rug, things aren’t what they seem—not only is my heart left with erosion and damage, but what I was pouring all of those precious resources into…it’s not even the real deal.
Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). It turns out that passing down the not-family-heirloom-rug to successive generations could offer a gift far better than insect eaten threads—a reminder to repent of all the ways our heart lusts after fake, fleeting riches, and to embrace the most satisfying treasure of all: Jesus.
About the Author:
Meg is a southeastern nomad, claiming Jackson, Mississippi and now Birmingham, Alabama as home. She loves working with middle school students during a summer academic camp through a partnership with Urban Hope PCA in Fairfield, Alabama. She and her husband, Brian, are members of Oak Mountain Presbyterian where Meg serves on the Women’s Shepherding Team. They enjoy cheering for the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Dallas Cowboys with their two sons.