People are more important than things – Chaplain’s Corner, February 2020

by Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Sean Phillips, USAG Ansbach Religious Support Office

Receiving household goods during a PCS move can be a significant emotional event. Complete strangers have packed, stuffed and hauled my possessions across vast oceans or miles of concrete. A maze of boxes now awaits unpacking and proper placement in new quarters. The overwhelming majority of our possessions navigate the transition unscathed; however, some items receive bumps and bruises, and a rare few are a total loss.

I remember reaching for a box marked FRAGILE in indelible ink. I suspected it contained our one-of-kind, pink, bohemian crystal glasses. Indeed it did, but it also produced a “chinky-chink” sound when I lifted it up to open the packing tape. My wife wouldn’t let me open it for days; she didn’t want to see the damage. My first inclination was to blame the lowest-bidder packers, condemn the moving company, and call for the transportation officer’s immediate resignation. All these people must be held responsible.

In time, I reflected upon my anger. No one intentionally broke my glasses. No packer woke up early one morning determined to break my stuff. Moving companies do not have tag lines, saying, “Trust us, we’ll break it.” All the blame in the world was not going to restore my bohemian crystal glasses.

We live in an imperfect world, and things get broken. My grandmother broke a china plate while washing it one evening after a wonderful meal, but at least I had a grandma who wanted to come to dinner at my house. A friend broke one of my golf clubs, but at least I had a friend with whom to play golf. People are more important than things. Be a good steward of all your possessions, but hold them loosely. Be a good neighbor to those around you and hold them tightly.

Eventually I had to open the clinky box. I found one broken glass and five perfectly preserved glasses. I couldn’t find an exact replacement, but I could still enjoy the crystal glasses with my wife and three friends. People are more important than things.

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