May 9th – “Stuff”

Have you ever thought abou the word, “stuff”? It’s kind of a fun word to say. It rolls off the tongue with ease. It is a word that has been used in many different ways, usually colloquially. Back in the day, NASA used it to refer to astronauts who are really good at being astronauts. They even made a movie about it called, “The Right Stuff”. If a pitcher is throwing well we say that he or she has “good stuff”. Maybe someone in the past has called you, “hot stuff”. Hopefully no one has ever told you to “stuff it”.

It is a multi-faceted word, but usually we use it to refer to items or objects that may or may not have any real value to our lives, but nevertheless take up space, as in, “wow, we have a lot of stuff!”.

The more time I spend at home, the more I realize that, “wow, we have a lot of stuff.” We have a small house and a big family, the result is, STUFF. Shelves in the basement are filled with old toys and games. Book shelves are crammed with books. Closets are overflowing with clothes, and our cupboards are a treasure trove of “all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.”

I’m careful not to call it junk, because it’s not junk, everything has value and has a story. It’s not junk, but it is “stuff”.

Do you know where the word “stuff” comes from? It can be traced back to a 13th century French word that referred to cotton undergarments worn beneath chain mail. Seriously! Soldiers wore it as a means of comfort, to stop the chainmail from chaffing. Is that what our “stuff” does for us? Do we find comfort in all of our collected items? Does our stuff provide a buffer from the harsher sides of life? If you dig a little deeper you discover that some soldiers refused to wear the undergarments, because they wanted the chainmail to keep them alert, focused and ready to do what they had to do.

Now that I have a little time, I really want to get rid of a lot of “stuff” in our house. My sentimental family however, seem to be on a different page from me. Apparently, my plan to call 1-800-GOT JUNK isn’t going to happen. And I get it. Everyone likes their stuff. But I think tonight I’m going to share with them the definition of the word, and challenge them to think of themselves as 13th century soldiers, forgoing their undergarments so they will be focused, alert, and ready for whatever the future may bring.

I hope I don’t get run through with a sword.