Twice in the past week, I have shown complete strangers through the house - every ro0m, closet, and cabinet. Upon meeting them for the first time ever, within fifteen minutes they have peeked into my family's personal spaces, looked through our clothing, taken note of our valuables (such as they are), and made basically a complete inventory of all the stuff comprising our lives. When a half hour has passed, they know as much or more about us than almost anyone else we know.
And then they leave. And I'll probably never see them again.
They are the people who are putting together the estimates for our upcoming move to Springfield. They have to inventory everything in order to give us an idea of what the move is going to cost, which they do by weight, apparently. The guy who was here today was doing his fourth out of five walk-throughs of the day; he told me that one year he did a total of 750!
"I'll bet you've developed a pretty good eye for this kind of stuff, huh?" I asked him.
With a grin, he said, "You wouldn't believe some of the things I've seen."
Can you imagine what it would be like to do this job? I mean, to take a stroll through the lives of two or three families every day of the week, noticing things. That's what you would do - notice things. Not just furniture, but books, dishes, TV, stereo, Precious Moments, grandmother's paintings, toys, storage bins, ping-pong table, vacuum cleaner, bikes, the toolbox, golf clubs, patio furniture, the good china, and so forth.
And then the other stuff that you'd have to notice but wouldn't make your inventory. The breakfast dishes in the sink, the 10-year-old's dirty clothes from yesterday on her floor, the week's worth of a pile of mail stacked on the phone desk, the pee stain on the basement floor in the little dog's favorite spot, the pile of wrinkly clothes on the living room floor waiting to be ironed, the toothpaste globs on the 7-year-old's sink, and so forth.
And you notice all this stuff, you see into the lives of all of these people, and I can't believe it would remain merely a business transaction. Of course, on one level it would have to be. You would have to keep it professional - boundaries and all that. But wouldn't it be fascinating to get to know so many people by making a close examination of all of their personal possessions?
You would get a glimpse at the core of their lives. You would understand some things about the way they live. You would get a sense of their priorities, their values. The guy today said, "There are a lot of books, aren't there?" (Erin and I never thought of ourselves as having a lot of books, but apparently we do, relatively speaking.) Seeing all of our books allowed the guy to know something about us that he didn't know before, namely, that we like to read a lot.
And I would imagine some questions would arise, questions that could lead to making some judgements about people - Are there TVs in the bedrooms? How many video game systems? Does the living room smell like cigarettes? Does the living room smell like lilacs? Do they recycle? Are they neat freaks? Are they slobs? You would have to be pretty careful to refrain from judging other people based on the intimate knowledge you would gain.
Hmm ... maybe our relationships with our very best friends are kind of like that, too. They are the ones we will let see into our closets, knowing that they will see all of our crap, but also knowing that they're not going to judge us for it. And we do the same for them.
And maybe our relationship with God is like that, too. Completely transparent and open before God, revealing the dirty clothes on our floor and the breakfast dishes piled in the sink, and knowing that we'll be loved anyway. (Not that the moving company loves us, and not that God is going to subsequently submit the estimate of what it will cost to move us to heaven or anything - it's just a metaphor.)
Anyway, the two people that have been here were really nice, very friendly guys. We got along great, even had some laughs, and it didn't feel anywhere nearly as creepy as I thought it might!