Earlier this week, in the midst of making my downtown rounds, I wandered into Goodwill. The purpose was twofold. We’d be putting a LouieConnect kiosk in there very soon, and I wanted to see what the space they had planned for it looked like. But I also browsed, as I always do, since all the items there are donated so that the people served by Goodwill’s programs will have work in the store.
On my way out I spotted two small, pewter chalices that could have been part of a portable mass/communion kit. On closer inspection, I saw a faint engraving on each one,“Sharron and Robin, 1981”.
These were probably chalices Sharron and Robin used to toast at their wedding almost forty years ago, when puffy sleeves, white tuxes, and toxic amounts of hairspray were in fashion.
Jessica and I have crystal champagne flutes we used for the same purpose back in 2006, with a matching cake server engraved with our names and wedding date. It sits in our cabinet now and comes out on fancy occasions. In our old house these things sat in a prominent place in a china cabinet with glass doors for all to see.
How did these chalices go from somebody’s mantle, or china cabinet, or dusty box in the attic, or wherever Sharron and Robin chose to put them as a symbol of their union, to a shelf in the Goodwill store? What was the journey from the wedding reception to here?
Sharron and Robin could be divorced, of course. One of them could have been purging every last object that reminded them of their ex, not caring that the engraving lowered their resale value significantly. These goblets could have been cast aside like the engagement ring and wedding band a friend of mine found in his church’s offering plate on Christmas Eve.
Sharron or Robin might not be living anymore. Perhaps the widowed spouse was downsizing and had much greater attachment to other objects.
Sharron and Robin could both be gone, those who survived them left with the awful task of cleaning out their house, making sure the contents of their wills distributed as they wished, and other tasks that seem so mundane on the surface but are actually how we close out a life in this world we’ve made.
Over the last forty years, what had these chalices been part of? Had they been filled with liquid on the anniversary of their original toast? Had they been passive bystanders to marital and parental fights? Had they been in the front room of the home when new babies arrived?
Had the sat on a mantle or shelf next to an urn of a loved one’s ashes? Or next to scrapbooks capturing precious moments? Are the faintly visible in the background of some of those pictures? Had they gathered dust over the seasons and seen the occasional polish when they became unsightly to someone?
A couple days later I stopped back in to Goodwill and picked Sharron and Robin’s chalices up, earning a strangely furrowed brow from the cashier and a, “those are… interesting…”.
I don’t know where they’ll go in my house, what they’ll witness, how they’ll be used (they’ll probably be Communion ware sooner or later), or where they’ll go from here. All I know is these two little chalices have a lot more life in them, so let’s see what happens.