What We Keep (MennoExpressions – summer issue)

Reading, especially fiction, is one of my highlights of being alive. Disappearing into a story, mulling it over while I’m away from it, reading far too late into the night because there is just no logical place to possibly stop, sharing the excitement with a fellow reader who was just as caught up in the story—all of these make me feel so grateful to simply know how to read and to be able to be immersed in someone else’s craft, someone else’s story so completely. And yet I rarely retain more from a book than the feeling I had while reading it. I’m often reading books for book club at the very last second because after a week or so, I can’t speak to details, plot points—just the overall feeling of how much I loved it or was completely annoyed by it. I keep the feeling.

There’s a lot of literal “keeping of stuff” in these pages. Somehow lids—you know, lids to yogurt containers—prompted a lively discussion in our planning meeting for this issue. We keep lids because… we’re frugal! They have many uses! You can use them to play kitchen hockey! They are great coasters and popsicle holders! We agreed: just because something has outlived its intended use doesn’t mean it has lost its value.

And yet, we hang on to so many things Just In Case. This goes beyond literal, tangible items: What friendships do you maintain over decades? What have you retained from cross-cultural experiences or international travel? Do you believe everything you’re “supposed” to believe as a Mennonite? Why have you kept certain traditions alive, but not others? What memories or stories are important to you to pass on to loved ones? And—just as important as what we keep—what would we be better off without?

818 ME What We Keep

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